How Family Boards will kill Family Businesses; make sure the right people are on your board.

There are two different approaches to having a board. One approach is to have people on your board that have expertise in the business or related fields. Related fields often are customers that use your products or people from industries that help create visibility on where your market might be heading. A board comprised in this way is most helpful to the CEO in navigating the challenges of the business. Another way of comprising a board is the friends and family approach. A board like this ignores expertise or relevant experience and instead revolves around the family and friends they like to have around. This type of board is focused on family needs and how the company has to provide the means to fulfill those needs.

The friends only function to making sure there is a majority on the board for any vote. These are the two extremes and any combination can be imagined. The times that the family and friends approach also adds expertise is highly desirable but seldom the case.

In a company I ran, the patriarch of the family was the chairman of the board. This gentleman was acting CEO until he was in his 70's after which he relinquished the reins and hired a CEO. He remained chairman of the board and kept an eye on the business best he could. He had two children, neither one having any interest or expertise in the business but one of the children became a member of the board anyway. This was in the hopes he would warm up to the business and become interested in it. It was an embarrassment. It didn't work out at all and he never understood any aspect of what was discussed at the board meetings. It was obvious to everyone except the father that he would never be capable of running this company.

This went on for years before finally that father woke up and asked him to leave the board. He was replaced with a highly competent CEO from a multinational manufacturing business. This new board member was amazing and extremely capable. It transformed the board and energized it. It was amazing to see how everyone in the company knew of this change and how it initiated a change in culture company wide. Suddenly, everyone knew this business was being run as a business, not a family piggybank hobby club. The change in attitudes was immediate and palatable.

I was CEO at the time and spent a lot of time with the new board member. From my perspective, it was a brilliant move. I had frequent conversations with the new board member and he was instrumental in guiding me and the company through the 2008 crises. Without a strong board, the company might not have survived.

If you have a closely held company, how is your board? Are you on the friends and family plan or do you have an expert board? If you want your company to thrive, you might want to take a look at your board. Having captains of industry on your board is probably one of the best investments you can make in your company. Set clear mandates for your board members and reevaluate them periodically. As companies change, so should boards. They can be one of your best resources.

With your success in mind,

The Miami Turn Around Group

Is your business under performing? Great! Sounds like there is an opportunity for improvement! We hope you like our publications, they always focus on basic, down to earth business principles. Get these right and your business can't help but thrive. Are you ready?

We're all looking for efficiencies in business, particularly in the highly competitive market that exists following the last recession and credit crunch. But curiously not many companies have calculated the actual cost of the downtime when staff make their refreshments.

Take the standard kettle - 1.5 litres of water, 1.5kw element, up to 4 minutes to boil, and probably 7 or 8 hot drinks, before starting the cycle again. The cost? Around 3p per boiling cycle.

I hear you say well 3p is not much and kettles are cheap to buy and replace. Whilst taken on it's own that statement is true, but when you start to factor in the loss of productivity when staff queue for their drink it starts to become suddenly costly. People are people, and by nature we are gregarious and standing around waiting encourages an increased loss of time through chatting and socializing.

I came across a company recently with over 400 office staff, just about to move into a multi-million pound new building, and then provide drinking water for hot drinks by means of kettles! Just calculate that out in terms of lost time due to the kettles not being able to keep up with the quantity of drinks required within the very short time window of a dinner or tea break. Scary isn't it!

For some time now, architects or m&e consultants have started specifying boiling and chilled water systems for office tea-points, break-out areas, conference rooms, catering areas, reception rooms and more. Modern and forward thinking fit-out companies, m&e engineers and global companies are encouraging their use but it is still not a concept that has been readily received.

So what are the features and benefits of commercial under-counter boiling and chilled water systems? I've listed a few for you to consider, which are really a checklist of points to raise when choosing supplier.

Instant water dispensing - the favourite combination is boiling and chilled, and the best systems quote initial dispense by number of cups. Typically these would be between 20 and 100 cup immediate availability and between 90 and 250 per hour! The reason initial dispense numbers are so important is that they are a guide to the capacity of the boiling and chilled taps. Can they deliver hot or cold drinks if every staff member were to require a drink at the same moment? Impossible to consider with the kettle but within range of the better commercial systems such as Billi or Zip. Try to make sure you get an answer from your supplier as to the instant dispense capacity.

Consistency - drink number 100 is the same temperature as number 37 or as number 1. The better systems dispense water at 98.5 degrees C - widely acknowledged as the optimum temperature for tea. The chilled side delivers filtered water at 6.5 degrees C.

Economy - the best commercial units cost around 9p per day to run. A very significant cost advantage.Compared to the ordinary kettle, boiling and chilled systems use less electricity, waste less water and last longer.

Choice - Boiling, Chilled and Sparkling, Boiling and Chilled, Boiling and Ambient, Chilled and Ambient, Chilled and Sparkling... if fact almost any combination.

Space Efficient - Some boiler units are capable of providing 250 cups per hour and will fit under a standard counter top. Not all the manufacturers of boiling and chilled taps however are able to supply units of these compact dimensions so its worth checking if this is so.

Ventilation - When comparing brands it is worth noting that some units on the market require a ventilation grille installing to keep the units cool. These are typically air-cooled units, but there are some now on the market that are water-cooled and don't require the grille.

Limescale - The hard water in the UK means that boiling and chilled systems require scale filters. The better brands will utilize the scale filter only on the hot water side of the boiler unit, This means that office workers who want chilled or sparkling drinks will get purer, better tasting water - instantly.
Find out about the manufacturer who went to market in 1990 and is now the fastest growing global brand. Ask the key questions and get the answer you need. No obligation quotes and friendly easy to work with staff. For specification sheets, energy efficiency, installation guides, CAD drawings and other free resources,
Just about every product you see on sale got there by a bunch of clever people designing and building it, but with a project manager behind the scenes making sure it was managed through to delivery.

Everything from the Pyramids to the Taj Mahal went through a project lifecycle of analyse, design, build and test and was run by someone who might not have had the title 'project manager' but employed project management skills that we would recognise today.

Most products and buildings in the modern world and lots in the ancient world are complex constructs. They have been carefully designed and built from large numbers of components, sourced often from different organisations, countries and continents, which have to be integrated together into the whole. Someone has to plan, co-ordinate and manage this.

Many small and medium businesses don't see the value of project management skills or do, but only implement them half-heartedly. They might get some experienced managers in, but still run the organisation more along the lines of 'just get it built' and tolerate overspend and late delivery, because that's their only experience of projects. These organisations often jump at the idea of Agile, because it appears to offer a way of getting things done without much discipline (which is definitely not the way that Agile is meant to work).

Most successful small and medium sized companies don't become successful because of the strength of their project management skills, they get there because of the strength of their product and their technical abilities. However it's at the point of success that becoming more organised becomes vitally important. Without this, the initial success is likely to fade and the company will start to struggle.

Putting rigorous project delivery methods in place and increasing the project management skills of key staff will allow you have a clear idea of how much something is going to cost before you start to develop it. It will also allow you to quantify the benefits of a product development and the profit margin for work being carried out for customers. Once work is underway, you should be able to track budget, timescales and quality, to ensure that you can deliver what is required on time, on budget and fully tested and working. It's also about organising your portfolio of projects, so that you are clear what projects are running to schedule and which ones are in trouble and what your priorities are if you need to borrow resource from one project to bring another back on track.

Project Management skills and Portfolio Management are incredibly important in a business world where change is the norm, not the exception and needs to be managed. The guys who built the pyramids knew how many years the build was going to take, what angle to build the walls, how high the pyramid could be, how much stone was required and how many workers they were going to need, because they did their planning and estimation up front and applied sound management skills.

Contract law lies at the heart of our system of laws and serves as the foundation of our entire society. This is not an exaggeration. It is a simple observation - one that too often goes unobserved.

Most business owners know that a contract based on just a handshake and a promise is a recipe for disaster. Therefore, the business environment is full of agreements between businesses and individuals.

To make sure your business is protected, here are my 10 top tips you should consider when closing the deal:-

1. Never start work without a contract

You finally landed that much sought-after client and are ready to get started on the project. It's tempting to move forward on a handshake, but it's worthwhile to take the time for your client to sign a written contract. Have your lawyer draft or review the contract to make sure it is favorable to you. If things go wrong, you need to make sure that the relationship between you and the client is set in place in a contract.

2. Think Ahead and Mitigate Risk

Contracts are a strategic tool that companies use to safeguard their resources and manage risk. In business, you don't want to trust that you will get paid, you want to make sure you will get paid. Most people enter business relationships good intentions, but sometimes things go wrong. If a matter ends up in court, your contract can help ensure a ruling is in your favour.

3. Define the Scope of Work

You are likely to discuss a variety of projects and the client's wish list can quickly grow. When performing the job, it helps to have a clearly defined scope of work. During the course of the relationship, should there be a misunderstanding about results, or the time in which a project was completed, you can easily refer back to the written document and quickly resolve the issue.

4. Up-sale your Services

A written contract is not only a legal document, it can also be used as a marketing tool. It provides evidence to your client that you are in control and once the scope of works has been defined in writing, it could lead the client broadening the services to be provided.

5. Take Your Time and Negotiate

Decide what points are not negotiable, but don't budge on the important stuff such as (a) the work you do remains your work until the client pays you for it, (b) the client pays a termination fee if he terminates the project without good reason, and (c) limitation of your liability if something goes wrong with the project. The negotiating process makes it fair to both parties.

6. Include Non-Compete Clauses

Businesses often use contracts to enforce non-compete agreements, such as agency or franchise agreements. Non-compete agreements prohibit individuals or other businesses from offering goods or services in the marketplace. These contracts create strategic relationships between two companies and allow them to provide unique goods or services to consumers.

7. Ensure Scope for Variations

If your business practices change, or the project becomes totally different from how it started out, or the market changes, after signing the contract, don't be afraid to update the contract every now and then to reflect how you actually operate or to reflect the new direction of the project. This keeps everyone on the same page, and it keeps you protected.

8. Consider New Opportunities

Another up-sale opportunity occurs upon the expiration of the contract. Prior to a project being completed, or shortly before an agreement is to end, meet with the customer. Discuss opportunities for new projects, and review the potential for extending your services for the next phase of work, now that initial results have been realised.

9. Keep it Confidential

Every business has information that considers both integral and invaluable to its success. Your agreement should contain mutual promises that each party will keep strictly confidential any business information it learns of while performing the contract.

10. Obtain Expert Insight

Legal advice should be sought before entering into any binding contract. Small businesses may be susceptible to larger businesses taking advantage of the entrepreneur's willingness to accommodate. Contracts often include difficult legal terms and solicitors can provide clear information on the terms and advise whether a business should agree to specific contractual terms.

Types of Contract:

Terms & Conditions 
Sale of goods/services 
Leasing agreements 
Agency agreements 
Distribution agreements 
Franchise agreements

Joint ventures 
Partnership agreements 
Shareholder agreements

Intellectual Property 
Confidentiality Agreements 
Employment contracts

Shazda Ahmed is the lead solicitor of the Business Services practice in Manchester. She represents business owners in a range of practice areas, including contract drafting & disputes, landlord tenant law, real estate, new business start-ups.

Monarch Solicitors
Understanding Needs... Delivering Results

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Even though your client is smiling when you walk in the door, can you tell if they're truly pleased to see you? When is a smile not a real smile?

It's important to decipher when someone is pleased that you're there or secretly hope your visit is brief and you are out the door fast.

Hollywood stars flash the pearly whites for the camera. How do you decipher someone's sincerity? Some people mistake an expression in which the teeth are showing and edges of the lips are turned up as a smile, or at a minimum, a sign of friendliness.

Researchers have studied and analyzed smiles since 1862, when French scientist Guillaume Duchenne used electrical stimulation to attempt to replicate the facial muscle movements involved in a smile. A cruel way to research smiles, don't you think?

More recent research reports that the part of the brain that controls true, happy smiles is the part of the brain that regulates emotion. Forced smiles come from the part of the brain that's in charge of planned movements, not emotional responses. A fake smile requires someone to make a conscious decision to disguise authentic emotions.

There are 43 muscles in the face and at least 6-12 are used to smile or frown. The muscles work to make wrinkles around the eyes, plump up the cheeks and turn the edges of the mouth upward.

We smile for a variety of reasons; sometimes it is to express joy or happiness. However, sometimes we use a smile to hide discomfort, to react to pain, grief or disgust, or sometimes to show we're sad. How can you really tell?

Seven Quick Tips to Spot a Real Smile 
1. Corners of mouth go up involuntarily with a true smile. 
2. When lips are tightly pressed together, even if the corners of the mouth are tilted upward, don't be fooled. This is not a smile. It might even be a flash of anger. 
3. The forehead is relaxed. No wrinkle lines other than regular age lines are visible. 
4. Eyes have concave-up furrows or they may be fully or partially closed are involved in a real smile. That's when the area under the eye gets puffy. 
5. No bottom teeth show. If they are on display, it's a quick tip-off to a forced expression. 
6. The head may be tilted slightly towards the right or left shoulder. This opens up the neck and throat area. If we're full of fear, we never expose the jugular vein. 
7. Red alert-a lopsided or one-sided smile usually indicates contempt, disgust, regret. Never mistake when the mouth is tuned up at only one corner and there is a slight flaring of the nostrils for a happy camper. Put up your guard.

Learn to recognize a real smile and you will do more business and have relationships that are more genuine.

Why are some proposals a success when others aren't? Why do some people rise to the top of their sales organization and some don't?

Are some proposals just lucky? Are some selling propositions simply better arguments?

Or (the favorite excuse of the less successful proposal writers and salespeople) are your prices just too high?

No way.

If you want to win, you simply need to follow one simple law: present the prospect with the benefits that are most important to him in the order that is most important to him.

When you ignore this law, you're praying to win the deal by luck, by false pretenses or - most commonly - because everyone else's proposal is worse than yours.

Sometimes you have the chance to speak to the prospect as directly before you submit your proposal. If so, then so much the better. Just ask what's important to him.

But with the government or when you're engaging in direct sales, you can't ask about what's important ahead of time. You should still try to work out what's important to this prospect, but you also need to get the prospect's attention and interest to get the opportunity to do that.

So what should you emphasize in the meantime to get the prospect's attention? If you watch successful sales, you can identify the selling arguments that are most persuasive in general. These are the 10 commandments.

Here's an example to show how it works in the real world:

When I was in college, I worked for one sizzling summer in Arizona for a small company in an office park, where we did focus groups and survey research. A water bottle delivery salesman came by.

Now, this was a service that I, as an employee, would have liked. As it was, my boss' water bottle system was to have one of the employees drive over with the empty jugs to the water refill machine at a nearby Mexican grocery store. When I found out that the bottles didn't get rinsed or sterilized between uses, I stopped using them. Other employees felt the same.

This was, however, a cheap system. And my boss was the very definition of a price buyer. He was also a price seller. He was convinced that it was all about price. So if price was going to work on anyone, it was going to work on him.

The salesman gave my boss his card and a brochure. My boss looked at them and said he wasn't interested and he already had a system. But, he asked, how much was the service?

The salesman gave him an answer and a price. He argued that the price was excellent and, for the price, the delivery service was a good investment.

You could almost hear the buzzer go off. No sale. My boss wasn't interested. Thank you anyway. The salesman left.

A few weeks later, a competing water delivery company salesman stopped by. He didn't try to force a business card or tri-fold brochure on my boss. I have no idea if he even had them.

Instead, his first words were about how my boss could increase his profits with a better water system. He gave a case study about an employee getting into a car accident while refilling water on company time and the costs in time, stress and insurance premiums that came with it. He gave another case study about improved employee morale and improved convenience for him. And he gave some evidence about the bacterial count when you refill bottles yourself versus using a convenient service.

My boss - ever a price buyer - asked the price. The water salesman responded, "Well, it depends on which service you order. But no matter which one you order, you can be sure that the water will be clean, the bottles will be sterilized, and the service will be convenient and professional - that's why we deliver water for Home Depot, Sears and over 500 other local companies." Likewise, he emphasized how my boss would benefit from his company's excellent on-time reputation and management focus on quality.

Finally, he addressed price. Given all the benefits of the service that he'd already discussed, the price seemed perfectly reasonable - even to my boss. The salesman got the order (and I finally got to quench my thirst again.)

The same principles apply to proposals. There are more mediocre proposals being submitted today than ever. This results from more companies than ever using Request for Proposals and the fact that, despite this, few companies bother to institute any training on how to win them. Add to this that many proposals are written by the salespeople themselves and that there are more mediocre salespeople than ever - mostly because the industry churns through a 30% turnover every single year.

Considering that the same principles that win in proposals are the same that win in direct sales, there is no more pressing need in business than for training to improve the quality of salespeople and their business proposals.

Why the urgency? Because, like the losing water salesman, poor salespeople use price as the crutch on which to rest their sales pitches. And when low price doesn't win the deal, they rely on price again - in the form of a special discount or "one time" price concession.

When that one fails, the salesperson will use a bizarre set of bad practices, like asking for the sale as a favor ("because I need just one more to win the competition"), or personal relationships, whining or just plain trying to bully the prospect into a sale.

But, even when you know nothing about the individual prospect, you know that these are very poorly converting strategies. You also know that there are other selling arguments that win much more consistently.

Finally, you know that price should be the very last approach to winning a sale. A salesperson must practice his poker face and not give away his hunger for a big order... if the salesperson will just cut the price a little more. The buyer will see that desperate look and exploit it.

Likewise, the sales manager needs to be able to stand firm, even while listening to a pleading salesperson on the phone or reading a frantic email about how "I can sell 10,000 if we can just cut the price 15%. Let me know ASAP!!!"

No, no, no. If you don't know anything about the prospect (which is about as bad an idea as there is) and, instead of finding out, you need to present your proposition anyway, this is the order to do it. Here are the 10 commandments of proposal writing and selling:

1. Opportunity. The chance to make money, to be the first into a new market, to dominate an industry. Anyone who is in a position to be making buying decisions feels this call. A sale is an opportunity for the buyer. The salesperson is just the means to get there.

2. Profitability. What would you care about if you were making the buying decision on your own proposition? What would be your concern? If your concern is something other than making the profits that will keep you in business, it's hard to see how you're going to be staying in business.

3. Quality. How much would you pay for something that you knew was going to fall apart in a few seconds? Not only would you pay nothing, but you'd have to be paid to take it. All products have the hassle factor in them, so higher quality will always be a selling point because it always reduces the hassle factor.

4. Service. Two types of service are critical - your consultative recommendation service before the sale and your customer service after the sale. Both are critical. The prospect will judge your commitment and ability to perform the second kind of service based on the way you perform the first. Honest, well thought out recommendations will always trump in-it-for-myself selling.

5. Name recognition. The simplest and easiest way to make a decision is "Do I recognize the brand?" If you do, you buy it. If you don't, you don't. This is why so much advertising is simply brand awareness advertising.

6. Reputation. The reputation of the organization follows closely after mere recognition. Let's say you recognize two brands-Apple and Dell. On their own, both would be fine. Up against each other, though, reputation will carry the day. Apple has a reputation for an excellent user experience, while most people couldn't say much about the reputation of Dell one way or the other. This is the value of corporate goodwill.

After these six, we're starting to get into the "Why bother?" stage. But if those don't work, keep on trying. Use your salesmanship skills, whether in your proposal or in your direct sales. If you have direct connections, use those at this point. References are a great way to gain attention even if they won't close the sale.

7. Salesmanship. Salesmanship is still important. We all know plenty of salespeople who can close plenty of deals on the strength of personality.

8. Personal relationships. When you see a salesperson whining or complaining or asking for personal favors like the water salesman, it's usually a mistaken attempt to capitalize in relationship before a relationship has been established.

9. References. Having a trusted intermediary put in a good word can open doors, but rarely close sales.

That's nine. And what have we not mentioned? Price. The simple truth is, if you haven't made the sale on any of the other nine factors, a selling proposition based on price isn't going to change anything. If a prospect doesn't want your product at a fair, honest price, then you need to go back and work on how you deliver the first commandments again.

10. Price. Certainly a requirement, but last in any good proposal or sale. Price is not a reason to buy. Price is the cost of getting all the benefits that are the reasons to buy. It is not an argument in itself.

You need to sell more. For the sake of your business, your job, and your family, you have to be successful in more deals.

Chris Sant will help you win 35% more deals by improving the quality, structure and focus of your proposals with the Bulletproof Proposal Formula, including the exclusive ABC, 5-10-15-20 and PROSE techniques.

Proof? These sorts of procedures and techniques raised the win rates of over 125 Fortune 500 corporations by a good deal more -- about 39%.

As a matter of fact, materials prepared making use of these techniques have led to over $30 billion in opportunities -- that's even more than the GDPs of Iceland and Jamaica together!

Learn more at -- free, fair proposal evaluations and the world famous proposal checker.

Which service do you require to instantly supercharge your wins by 35%?

• Bulletproof Content: An elite library of customized, tested, reusable content and proven template.

• Bulletproof Training: Interesting, lasting, tailored training for up to 18 of your people on these proven methods.

• Bulletproof Package: Both the content library as well as the training. Make your wins explode into the stratosphere.

All services come with incredible benefits:

• The Differentiation Designer. Increase the profitability of your company by 15% by differentiating yourself from the competition on value, not price.

• The Deal Winner Wizard. Intensify the persuasiveness of your sales materials by 255% using these simple strategies.

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• An iron-clad 1,000% ROI money back guarantee. You are going to generate at least ten times the cost of my services in fresh wins within 18 months or your money back. Guaranteed.
You're selling your handmade products at your local craft fair but aren't sure what will sell. It's not a matter of what you think will sell but about what has sold in the past.

How do you find out? Follow these 10 tips to produce hot sellers for your next event.

Keep Production Costs Low

Craft fairs are not the time to bring out your artistic creations. The best way to make a profit is to keep costs low. This means that you need to sell your item for more than it costs to make.

Example: One baby sweater costs $25 to make. To earn a profit you must mark it up to get your costs back plus make a profit. This is not something to sell at a fair.

Example: A set of 3 face cleaners cost $1.75 to make. It is easy to mark this item up and to make a profit. This makes a good choice.

Cater to the Largest Demographic

Before you produce the goods for your show you need to know who will be attending. Will they be retired? Is it a family oriented show? Is there an entrance fee or is it a no cost event?

These are important to know because this is how you decide what products to sell.

Keep Prices Below $25.00

Most local craft fairs are run by churches or non-profit clubs. They make their money by selling the booth space not by you selling your product.

You want to have varying prices from $1 - $25 so everyone, including children can have fun shopping.

Stick with Everyday Gifts

Gifts that are simple and appeal to certain groups are best. Think children, girl friends, boy friends, teachers, coaches, grandparents, parents, holidays, bosses and other common relationships and events.

Make Quick Items

The items you make should not take more than 1-hour. You want to stick with products that you can make in under 30-minutes. This way your profit margin will be high.

Package to Sell

You want to have quick sets that are easy for customers to purchase. Think about how you shop during Christmas or Easter. You like the pre-made gift sets because the choice has already been done for you.

Shoppers are busy people so make it easy for them to choose a gift.

Trendy Can Be Viral

What's happening around you during your event? What's viral on social media or in your town? Capitalize on that. Don't use copyrighted characters or images but use similar colors or wacky sayings.

Example: Local sports colors make good products. In other words ribbons, hats, bracelets, etc.

Invite Friends to The Show

This might be a little sneaky but it helps to invite friends to the craft fair. Have them wear your product around.

Think of the last time you were at an amusement park or concert. Certain items were hot sellers. Why? People saw others wearing the item (mouse ears) and wanted them too.

Price Your Items to Sell

This is different from pricing under $25. Group products together. Some common groupings are:

buy one get one free

buy one get one half off

2 for the price of one

50% off two

Buy this get that

Colors Make the World a Better Place

Psychology has proven that color affects the way we feel. In fact we place a big value on how visually pleasing something is. Use this to your advantage.

Red - urgency, sale, and energy

Yellow - youthful, optimistic, attention grabbing

Blue - trust and security

Green - wealth and relaxation

Orange - buy, sell, now

Pink - romantic and feminine

Purple - soothing and calming

Knowing what sells well will help increase your sales at your next craft fair.

Here's an action step for you to take:

Go to your local store. What are they selling? How are they marketing it? Pay close attention to how they use color and pricing in their displays.