StrategyDriven effective executives, efficient employees Wed, 21 Nov 2018 08:16:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The StrategyDriven Podcast provides executives and managers with the strategic business planning and tactical execution tools needed to create greater organizational alignment and accountability for the achievement of superior results. During each podcast, we discuss the best practices that help create a clear, forward-looking strategy translatable to the day-to-day activities of all organization members. Nathan Ives clean Nathan Ives (Nathan Ives) Copyright 2007-2018 by StrategyDriven Enterprises, LLC. All rights reserved. Strategic business planning and tactical execution best practices for executives and managers. StrategyDriven Atlanta, Georgia 2960793 Executive Briefing – Nuclear Wed, 21 Nov 2018 06:00:28 +0000 Industry News

Sustaining Nuclear

The Economy

Operating Events

International News

Opinion and Analysis

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How to Scale Your Business Using Cloud PBX Wed, 21 Nov 2018 01:00:34 +0000 StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article
Scaling in business is always a big deal, because it is the only way to accurately measure growth and success. If you do not have the right systems in place, however, scaling can become very difficult. There are many different systems to scale, and not having the right framework into place can cause delays and even hiccups in your operations.

Take your telephone system, for example. Hiring more workers as you scale your business more globally means your network needs to become increasingly complex. Rather than be inhibited by these extra hires, choose a Cloud PBX system that scales with your company and doesn’t hold you back.

How Can a Cloud Based PBX Help Your Business?

PBX, or Private Branch Exchange, is a network for phone calls and other communication methods used within a company. It is how you can call different departments when you need something, and how clients can get a representative for the specific answer or solution that they are looking for.

There are a variety of reasons why a Cloud Based PBX system can help you, as it:

1. Allows for an unlimited number of lines

So you can scale up or down as you need to without any hassle. You could add people through the call routing system without even adding extra telephones to your office floor.

2. Is only limited by your own Internet’s capacity

The only limit to this tech is your Internet speeds. If yours are slow, try contacting a few internet service providers today to see if there are new plans available to upgrade or switch to.

3. Has one bill to pay

When you choose an all-in-one service, you don’t have to worry about what services you use and which you don’t, because all of it will be on one bill.

4. Is easy to set up

Choose the right company, and they will set up the entire system for you without a hitch and at no extra charge.

5. Offers seamless communications

Once you have your cloud based PBX system set up and running, you can then enjoy seamless communications between departments. Boost productivity, improve customer service, bring in more business, and everyone’s happy!

How to Scale Your Business Using Cloud PBX

Choosing the best Cloud PBX will depend entirely on your budget and needs. In most cases, however, being able to pick and choose which features your company needs will always be your best bet. That way you can choose the best VoIP for small business operations now, and then include more services in your plan as you scale up seamlessly.

Choosing systems that can be scaled with ease is the best investment you can make for your new company. You won’t need to reinvest or overhaul your operations just because you hired a few new people or even created another department. Instead, you can simply set them up. That is the power of cloud computing. That is the way you will grow and succeed.

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Starting Up Your Small Healthcare Clinic Tue, 20 Nov 2018 21:00:05 +0000 StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship ArticleIncreasing numbers of people are growing tired of working for someone else. Sure, employed life has its perks. Your employer takes responsibility over your safety and well-being in the workplace, they have to guarantee contracted hours (ensuring you always take home a livable pay packet), and you benefit from paid annual leave, sick leave, and parental leave. But it does grow tiresome building someone else’s dream on their behalf and only getting paid a portion of what they are gaining for your hard work. It’s not all too surprising that many people are turning to setting up their own businesses. Huge numbers of employees are becoming self-employed and heading to the world of E-commerce. This is a good idea – selling consumer products online can be extremely profitable and is a relatively simple path to pursue, as long as you have an innovative product concept. But it’s important to remember that this isn’t the only option out there. There are plenty of other paths you can follow when it comes to setting up a small business. One idea that you could undertake is setting up a small healthcare clinic. Here are a few of the basics you’d need to follow to do this!

Hire a Consultant

It is highly recommended that you hire a consultant who has dealt with opening medical practices before. There are numerous pitfalls that could get in your way during the startup process, so it’s a good idea to have someone on your side who can warn you of different steps that you need to take to be granted permission to open and operate your business.

Invest in High-Quality Equipment

One of the most expensive steps of setting up a private medical practice or clinic is purchasing the equipment necessary to treat patients safely. This will range from medical supplies such as needles, syringes, intravenous lines and solutions to furniture that can organise these supplies like Medical Supply Carts with Drawers.

Invest in Software

You will also have to invest in software such as electronic health record systems, practice management systems, medical billing systems, medical transcription software, background check systems, and credit card processors. This will all allow your staff to monitor patients’ conditions, keep records, and process payments.

Taking On Staff

You need to be extremely vigilant when taking on staff of any kind to work in your clinic. Medical staff must be fully educated, trained, and qualified to practice – you will require proof of this. Administrative staff must understand patient confidentiality and data protection law.


You will have to market your small practice a lot in order to draw customers away from their current service provider. It’s generally best to collaborate with professional marketing services who can conduct market research and find the best way to reach out to your target demographic.

These are just a few brief steps that you should bear in mind when getting started on this journey. While setting up a small healthcare clinic isn’t the easiest of tasks, it can make you a whole lot of profit in the long run!

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How to Hire the Best Employees for Your Company Tue, 20 Nov 2018 16:00:25 +0000 StrategyDriven Talent Management ArticleEmployees are the heart and soul of the company. It is due to these workers that success can be achieved, and that the day-to-day operations run smoothly. However, how do you find these types of employees? Not every single person will be a good fit for your company, and you need to find someone who is not only a fit for your sake, but for theirs as well. What’s the point of having employees that don’t perform their work? This doesn’t benefit the business in any way. On the other hand, there is no sense in working there for the individual either, if they aren’t happy with what they are doing, as they will not put in any effort if this is the case. There is a way to find and hire the best individuals for the job, and there are a few steps that must be taken in order to do this.

Think about who you need

Every single person has a certain role to play within the business operations. When it is time to hire someone new, you should already have a clear image in your mind about what role you need to fill. It could happen that someone unexpected comes along and talks about how much they want the job at hand, but when you put up a job posting online, the description needs to be detailed about the type of person you require. That being said, it could be that someone who doesn’t fit the exact criteria will be the best fit, so you shouldn’t close your mind off to the idea, either.

Reviewing applications

Reviewing applications is something that will take a while, and it’s the first course of action before you start calling people into interviews. Not everyone will be called, although it is also hard to judge someone based on simply a piece of paper. You can take a look at what they have worked in the past if they jotted down any extracurricular activities and so on. Some may even opt to do a quick search of the individual across social media platforms, to get a better feel for them before calling them into an interview.

Experience and credentials

If you are looking to hire someone that can fill up a graphic designer role, an electrical engineer, an architect or anything else it might be, you want to make sure the person has the experience or background in that field. You want them to be able to perform at work, and there is no sense in hiring an electrical engineer whose school and work experience lies in a marketing field. Thus, one of the first steps when reviewing applications more thoroughly is to take a look at what their past background is.

Holding several interviews

The interview process is often lengthy, and it would also be worth your while, as a company, to hold several interviews with an individual, as opposed to just one. Having different workers from the business involved would be a good idea as well in order to get a true feel for that prospective employee. Both parties should ask plenty of questions, but you should also keep an open mind during the process.

Aligned with company culture and values

It’s more than experience that is necessary for an employee to work effectively within a certain company setting. A big part of it is also fitting in with the company culture, but even more so, about aligning with the values of the work. Does the prospective employee believe in what the business is doing? If they do, the work they produce will also showcase that fact.

Offering a different perspective

You want people to bring a different perspective and approach to the table. This is often how the best ideas end up forming together, and it is something that should be encouraged. However, more than just this, you should consider hiring different types of employees. While having individuals that are employed full-time is important, you should also consider what options there are for outsourcing some people for certain projects. When someone is not accustomed and integrated into the company and the way it thinks, they will bring something completely new to the table. For instance, you can outsource a chief financial officer that can offer advice to the company on how to best improve their profitability. Having these type of employees around is like having a secret weapon at your disposal, and you can discover more about the benefits of doing this.

Set expectations

Leaders need to set expectations and guidelines for what is expected of the employees. While it is important to take into consideration everyone’s advice, there also needs to be a type of structure set in place that helps move things along. There shouldn’t be a finger of blame pointed at an employee that didn’t accomplish something that was assumedly expected. First, the manager should consider whether or not they were clear about their expectations.

Treat them well

When a company treats employees well, they will also work better and more efficiently. This isn’t something that your organization should do for the purpose of productivity, but because it’s important and the best course of action in this aspect. A successful business is built on hard-working people who believe in the company, and vice versa, as they work together in order to achieve the various goals and tasks in question. At the end of the day, treat people with respect, and demonstrate through action, not merely words, that they are a valuable asset to the day-to-day work.

A company should never under-estimate the importance of its people. If the people working for you aren’t happy, you will not succeed. It’s not only up to the workers to be experts in what they do, but the as an organization, you need to show that you value what they are doing. Give them positive feedback, and most importantly, listen to what they have to say. The decisions that make up the company is something that should involve everyone, as it also affects everyone.

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Leadership Inspirations – Calm Seas Sun, 18 Nov 2018 16:00:48 +0000 StrategyDriven Leadership Inspirations Quote“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.”

Publilius Syrus (85 – 43 B.C.)
Latin writer

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Are You Looking For Customers In All The Wrong Places? Sat, 17 Nov 2018 16:00:52 +0000 StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales Article
Marketing any business can be a serious challenge. This is especially true if your business is relatively new. After all, trying to take your business from something that no one knows about to something that has a firmly established customer base can be incredibly difficult. In fact, when you’re just starting out, it can seem borderline impossible. And there are plenty of very promising businesses that end up falling at the starting line for this very reason. They end up looking for customers in all of the wrong places and they’re never able to build up the kind of audience that they really need. With that in mind, here are some things that you can do in order to stop that from happening to your business.

Know your demographics

Every business is different, and because of that, every business is going to connect with a different customer base. One of the most common mistakes that a lot of new businesses make is that they try to please everyone and, in doing so, end up not really pleasing anyone. The truth is that you need to figure out what your business’s demographic actually is. Otherwise, you could end up putting a huge amount of effort into a marketing to a group of people who are simply never going to be interested in your business or your product.

Know your techniques

Different techniques are effective in different ways when it comes to marketing your business. In the same way that different customers connect with different businesses, different marketing techniques are going to be better and worse for different demographics. Whether it’s b2b sales VS b2c, social media marketing vs traditional marketing, or even understanding how the tone of your marketing attracts different customers, if you don’t know which techniques are right for marketing your business, you’re going to end up flailing around, trying everything, and wasting a huge amount of time, effort, and resources without much return.

Know your strengths

It’s amazing how often businesses aren’t able to connect with customers simply because they don’t know how to play to their own strengths. After all, if your business is exactly the same as its competitors, then there’s no real point in it existing at all. Because of that, you need to focus on leaning into what makes your business different. What sets your business apart from all of the others that a customer could choose from? By highlighting and focusing in on your business’s unique selling point, you’re going to be able to attract customers much more quickly and easily.

Of course, understanding these things isn’t going to suddenly make marketing your business into a cakewalk. It’s always going to a challenge and one that you need to dedicate a decent amount of time and resources to. Whether you put together a dedicated marketing team in-house or you outsource it to someone else, making sure that your marketing is getting the time and attention it deserves is essential for making the most out of your business.

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7 Things Tax-Savvy Business Owners Should Do Before Year-End Sat, 17 Nov 2018 01:00:14 +0000 StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances ArticleIt’s not too late for you to take steps to minimize your 2018 business taxes!

At the end of the year, many small business owners start looking for ways to lower their business taxes. Although the best tax plans are usually implemented year-round, it’s not too late for you to save in 2018 while you begin to plan for next year.

Here are just a few of the many tax-saving strategies we recommend to our business clients at year-end:

1. Time your income and expenses

Although it is difficult to predict how your business will fare next year, we can review your books and business plan to see whether receipt of income and payment of expenses would benefit you more this year or next. If you have had a great year, you may wish to decrease your revenue by delaying some of your December billings until early January. If you have the cash available, you can also increase your deductions this year by (1) purchasing equipment that you were planning to buy in the near future; (2) stocking up on office supplies and other items that you utilize on a regular basis; and (3) pre-paying your business mortgage, rent, insurance and/or professional subscriptions.

2. Depreciate your new equipment

The Section 179 deduction has been expanded – business are now permitted to take a first year deduction of up to $1 million on purchases of qualified equipment. Above this amount, the deduction is reduced dollar for dollar until it completely phases out at $2.5 million. For equipment expenditures that either don’t qualify under or exceed the limits of Section 179, you can take an immediate first-year deduction of 100% of the adjusted basis of the property under the new bonus depreciation rules. The new law also allows you to take this depreciation allowance for equipment that you purchased second hand – just make sure to put it in service before the end of the year.

3. Set up a 401(k) plan

You are entitled to a tax credit of up to $500 per year towards the setup and the first three years of administering a company 401(k) plan. You also receive a deduction for all amounts put into the plan, which are tax-deferred until you or your employees withdraw funds.

4. Give bonuses to your staff

You can lower your business taxes and make your employees happy with gifts or bonuses at year-end. Keep in mind that while S Corporations can deduct the full amount, C Corporations can only deduct bonuses to shareholders with a 50% or greater interest in the company. These deductions are not available at all to LCCs, partnerships and sole proprietors.

5. Take all available deductions and write-offs

Remember that pass-through entities such as S Corporations and Partnerships are now able to take a 20% off qualified purchases under Section 199A of the new tax code. Also, don’t forget to take a deduction for business loan interest and to write off bad debts and obsolete equipment!

6. Buy energy-efficient business property

Be good to the environment and yourself (through tax deductions and credits) by purchasing energy-efficient business property, vehicles and equipment.

7. Meet with your tax professional now!

“It is vital that you plan your taxes before the end of the year in order to utilize as many new benefits of the new tax law as you can,” says Moskowitz, “otherwise, you may regret missing a tremendous benefit because you only found out about it after December 31st.”

About the Author

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances ArticleSteve Moskowitz founded the full-service tax law firm of Moskowitz, LLP with the firm belief that everyone with the drive and commitment to start and operate a profitable business should not be held back by fear or ignorance of the tax code. In fact, one of the core principles of our firm is that individuals and businesses should learn how to benefit from it.

About Moskwitz, LLP

The tax lawyers and other financial professionals at Moskowitz, LLP offer comprehensive assistance to businesses large and small, including year-end business tax planning services. Located in the heart of the financial district of San Francisco, Moskowitz LLP works with businesses of all sizes. To learn more about Moskowitz, LLP and how we can help you legally save taxes, visit our website at: or call toll-free at: (888) 829-3325.

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The Art of Persuasion: 7 Negotiation Techniques That Won’t Leave You Hanging Fri, 16 Nov 2018 21:00:02 +0000 StrategyDriven Marketing and Sales ArticleNegotiation is an art form. It requires interpersonal skills, a masterful control of language, a deep understanding of human emotion, and excellent listening skills. This is perhaps why a small company’s success often hinges on the quality of its salespeople.

Find common ground

The very best salespeople don’t just push for what is best for them and their affiliates. They identify precisely what the other party wants to get out of the negotiations, then finds a way for both parties to leave the negotiations happy.

The only way to do this is by asking questions. Get as much information as possible about the other party and be upfront and sincere about what you hope to get out of the negotiations as well. Coming from a place of openness and honesty will prompt openness and honesty in the other party and the common ground will be found much quicker.

Build eye-catching visuals in presentations

Putting together boring sales presentations is the first way to turn potential customers and clients off. Put together engaging and eye-catching presentations with the presentation software that top companies use to enhance your sales pitches.

Know when to walk away

You can’t win every battle. Sometimes you just have to walk away, dust yourself off, and get ready for the next one. Knowing when to walk away is a skill. You should enter every negotiation with some red lines that you are not willing to compromise on. If these can’t be met, politely end the negotiations and walk away.

Set the first offer

The person that makes the first move sets the anchor around which all further negotiations will be set. It allows you to take control of the negotiations and forces the other party to react to your offer.

Appeal to human emotion

Humans are emotional creatures. We often display patterns of behaviour for no other reason other than the fact that our parents did. We buy the same products our parents did, cook things the same way, and have similar routines.

This can be applied to your sales strategy. If you have an existing business relationship with the company, stress this fact. If your team are very excited to start dealing with the company, show the other party this. A little bit of ego stroking can go a long way. They are humans after all.

Make sales a company-wide initiative

Selling isn’t just carried out by the sales department. Including other departments in negotiations can help close the deal. Maybe your marketing department could run a joint campaign and raise awareness of the other party’s brand? If you have inbound marketing strategies in place that use personalized content, maybe you could generate some content to drive traffic to the other party’s website?

Create a sense of urgency

Closing the deal is one of the hardest parts of the sales process. Even if clients and customers like the product or service, getting them to commit can be challenging.

One of the best ways to overcome this and get them to sign on the dotted line is by creating a sense of urgency in the negotiations. Reiterate that you can only offer this exclusive price if they sign today, otherwise tomorrow the price goes back up to its normal rate. This may be the nudge they need to seal the deal.

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How to Boost Your Profits Fri, 16 Nov 2018 16:00:57 +0000 StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances ArticleAmerica is built on the spirit of entrepreneurship. There are over 28 million small businesses nationwide, and a further 22 million that are solely operated. That’s a large number of businesses that contribute to the country’s economy. However, the number of businesses that fail within the first four years is a significant 50%, and out of the survivors, only a third will reach a decade.

Running your own business is a challenge no matter what industry you are in or the products and services that you provide, and there is no singular reason for these failure rates.

Common Reasons for Business Failure

Failing to plan

For your business to be a success, you need to make both short and long-term plans. You need to identify your goals and define objectives that will help you reach them, from the next few months through to the following years. Your goals will shape every business decision you make and give you direction. They need to be quantifiable so that you can assess how successful the actions that you take are. This is important; how will you know what is working and what isn’t if you have nothing to measure?

Ignoring customer needs

The customer is always right. That’s a correct statement, surely. Not always, but it has you relate to your customers that will affect the success of your business. In the digital age that we live in, there has never been a better time to truly understand your customers’ and clients’ needs and wants. Always keep an eye on what your customers want and tell you about your business; their perception of your business may be very different from what you intend. They are fickle, and your business needs to be able to respond to emerging trends, feedback and correspondence. It requires flexibility and patience, but if you not only listen but hear to what your customers say, you will reap the rewards.

Lack of profit

Lack of profit is very different to lack of revenue. Your business turnover may be high, but that does not mean that it is a profitable business. For your business to grow, the profit needs to flow. There are several reasons for a lack of profit: poor management decisions, cash flow problems and premature scaling; all can be related back to a failure for adequate planning. Only 40% of small businesses are profitable – the others either break even or lose money. If your business is not making a profit, you need to assess every aspect of your business so that you can identify why you are not.

How to Boost Your Business Profits

The quandary you have is how to generate more sales while reducing your expenditure. While your current efforts have been successful to some extent, you must maximize the opportunity to turn a profit.

Modify your strategy

You need to implement a new strategy to do this. Research online about how other successful businesses in your niche have succeeded. The chances are high that they have switched to a more relationship-based model that uses technology to improve their customer experience and loyalty. Here is an example of how this change in strategy has been used to grow a law form, check it out.

Increase the product selection

To increase sales, identify which products you can cross-sell to existing clients and customers. You already know that they are interested in your niche, but are there other relating products that your customers will buy from elsewhere? An example of this is for a yoga clothing company to sell yoga mats. The key to making this cross-selling strategy work is to comprehensively understand who your current and target customers are. Know what they want and what they need. You can incentivize your customers to buy more from you by offering bundles and discounts.

Review operational procedures

There will always be aspects of your operational functions that can be improved upon. The Japanese word ‘kaizen’ translates as improvement, and is the name given to a strategy that works on the principle that all employees work together to improve process incrementally. Kaizen is a valuable mindset to adopt and can dramatically reduce waste and improve a business’s profitability. It is imperative that you get all staff members on board and seek their feedback on how to improve your business’s function.

For example, a sub-total column on an invoice can help speed up the efficiency of your accounts department; introducing cloud-based technology so that your teams can collaborate easier, or even something as simple as moving the printer’s location to be nearer to the receptionist can help to make working more efficient. Kaizen is not a one-off experience, consistently aim to improve efficiency. Ask your employees for their recommendations and act upon the information that they give you.

Regularly review expenditure

You may just have been focusing on the income and profit columns of your account reports; however, you need to pay equal attention to your costs. Businesses evolve over time, and so you need to make sure that your regular outgoings are still relevant to your business today, and not based on historical data.

Review your running costs and identify areas that you could save money. Rolling contracts are a great way of controlling cash flow as you know how much money is leaving your account and when, but they can also make you complacent to other deals that are currently up for grabs and can save you money.

Are there routine tasks that you can outsource? Or, would it be more cost-effective to hire someone on a part-time or freelance basis to complete jobs that you currently pay for a full-time member of staff or do yourself? Outsourcing can be a great solution to boosting efficiency and profits; you only pay for the project that you need completing.

You should also review your suppliers. There may be better market deals that you can access that may not have been available when you started out. It can be risky, as there is potential to damage the relationship you have with your current supplier, but it is worth opening the conversation up, just tread carefully.

While it can seem daunting to undertake such a thorough review of your business, it is critical for your business to be a success. You need to adjust your business to the changing times and embrace technology to help your customer’s user experience and increase the efficiency of your organization.

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Common Disputes Between Business Owners Fri, 16 Nov 2018 13:00:13 +0000 StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article
It is perhaps inevitable that, at some point, commercial business owners will not see eye-to-eye with their peers.

After all, entrepreneurs are hyper-focused on their business. This tendency is usually positive, but can be problematic when it encounters the same level of hyper-focus from another business owner. Two individuals, with very different – but equally valid – points of view can collide, and the consequences of such disputes can be extremely problematic for both parties.

Below, we have outlined three key areas that tend to create conflict between two business owners, as well as pointing out how you can navigate such a scenario should you experience them over the course of running your own company.

Arguments over advertising

We’ve all seen adverts where businesses state why they are better than a competitor. Sometimes, the competitor in question is hinted at, using familiar language or catchphrases to make it obvious which competitor they are discussing. Occasionally, the reference to a competitor is far less subtle, and a brand will outright explain why they are better than The Other Business.

Let’s be honest, neither is ideal. While this type of advertising is seen as beneficial, drawing a direct comparison against rivals, it’s actually a tad reductive – and can create serious problems when the owner of the competitor sees the advice, and (somewhat understandably) is annoyed by it. To avoid this scenario developing, focus your advertising on your company and its benefits, allowing customers to draw their own conclusions about why your business is the best choice for their needs.

Arguments over land

The dividing line between where one business’ property ends and another begins can often be a source of aggravation between companies. This scenario tends to develop when boundaries between land are not clearly divided, and most companies operate on assumptions and agreement with their fellow business owners – which tends to work well, overall.

However, the issue is thrown into stark relief if you wish to expand your premises. Suddenly, the general handshake agreement of who owns what land becomes problematic, and can lead to arguments between business owners.

To avoid such a scenario, proper planning is everything; always ensure you work with specialists such as Cochran to map out exactly where you have permission to build, so there’s no room for argument from your neighbors in future.

Arguments over exterior frontage

If one entrepreneur works hard to ensure the exterior of their business is in the best possible condition, they will expect others to do the same. After all, the look of every business influences the aesthetics of an entire area. If one business isn’t keeping up with the overall presentation of their area – perhaps their paint is chipped, or their awning is torn – then it can feel like they are letting the side down.

If there is a business in your local area that is missing the mark on exterior presentation, you can make a few friendly suggestions on improvements – but the key word here is friendly. Try to keep in mind the fact that you don’t know what the finances of that businesses are like; they may be well aware of their poor exterior frontage, but don’t have the funds to rectify the issues. Instead, focus on your own business, and hope that customers will be inclined to do the same.

In conclusion

As the points above show, with the right attitude, and effective planning, many disputes can be avoided. By focusing on preventing arguments, you save time, hassle, and stress – and are even able to focus on fostering positive relationships with your fellow business owners.

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