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The Big Picture of Business – Each Role Matters. The Value of Support Staff

StrategyDriven Big Picture of Business ArticleEvery person in the company matters to its success. Every job is important, as is filling them with the best people for each job. The art and skill of being great support staff is a cornerstone of business success.

From pop culture, think of the great role models that we grew up watching:

Della Street was the loyal secretary to Perry Mason. She knew what everyone was thinking and was the glue to the cases. She was the model for executive assistants and office managers everywhere.

The CEO is made stronger with a good C-suite team. Ed McMahon was TV’s premier second banana. He worked as assistant, announcer, commercial pitchman and sketch narrator to Johnny Carson throughout their 29-year run on NBC-TV’s “Tonight Show.” They had previously worked together on a game show, “Who Do You Trust” on ABC-TV. Bandleaders on the late-night are vital #3 characters on the show, including Doc Severinsen, Skitch Henderson, Paul Shaffer and The Roots band.

The movie star heroes had buddies to help them navigate the adventures. John Wayne and Roy Rogers had Gabby Hayes. Gene Autry had Pat Buttram.

TV show stars had great support casts. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz had Vivian Vance and William Frawley as Ethel & Fred Mertz. This historic teaming became the formula for most other TV sitcoms. Shows like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “30 Rock,” “The Office” and others had expanded ensemble casts.

Some performers made careers as supporting players. Ann B. Davis was Schultzy on “The Bob Cummings Show” and Alice on “The Brady Bunch.”

Back characters on TV shows included restaurant and bar operators, where the stars went top relax. There were friendly, familiar places such as Cheers bar, Arnold’s Drive-In on “Happy Days,” the Krusty Krab on “SpongeBob Square Pants,” Dale’s Diner on “The Roy Rogers Show” and other homey places. In the business world are those staff people who make us feel more like family. Therefore, our loyalty to the company rises, and we are more productive.

Still other back characters bring cohesion to the enterprise. On “Gilligan’s Island,” those glue-adhesive characters were the Professor Roy Hinkley and Mary Ann Summers. Those vital employees in the business world might include the IT guy, the receptionist, the mailroom manager, the ethics adviser and the secretary to the Board of Directors.

Great executives know the value of crediting support figures for the business success. Lt. Columbo was always quoting his wife as basis for testing hypotheses, though the character was never shown. Newspaper publisher Perry White was always upstaged by his employees, notably Clark Kent/Superman. Al Roker does the weather on “The Today Show,” and he is also the motivating segment host as well. Nobody turns letters like Vanna White, making her essential to the legacy of “Wheel of Fortune.”

And then there were those mentors behind the scene who were responsible for lots of creativity. The Beatles had George Martin as their producer. Steven Spielberg had John Williams as music composer for his films.

A host of people make the CEO look good. Further, they transform the company to greater plateaus. Warmly recognize the contributions of executive assistants, trusted advisers, mentors, support staff, hier apparents, adjuncts, vendors and outside stakeholders.

Here are some characteristics of support personnel and rising stars who will make it as professionals and business leaders:

  • Act as though they will one day be management.
  • Think as a manager, not as a worker.
  • Learn and do the things it will take to assume management responsibility.
  • Be mentored by others.
  • Act as a mentor to still others.
  • Don’t expect status overnight.
  • Measure their output and expect to be measured as a profit center to the company.
  • Learn to pace and be in the chosen career for the long-run.
  • Don’t expect that someone else will be the rescuer or enable you to cut corners in the path toward artificial success.
  • Learn from failures, reframing them as opportunities.
  • Learn to expect, predict, understand and relish success.
  • Behave as a gracious winner.
  • Acquire visionary perception.
  • Study and utilize marketing and business development techniques.
  • Contribute to the bottom line, directly and indirectly.
  • Offer value-added service.
  • Never stop paying dues and see this continuum as “continuous quality improvement.”
  • Study and comprehend the subtleties of life.
  • Never stop learning, growing and doing. In short, never stop!

About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

Why Every Business Should Outsource

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article | OutsourcingOwning and running a business is not a 9-5 role; it takes a highly committed, dedicated individual who will strive for success every hour of the day, whether that means working until 9pm on a Friday evening or waking up early to take a business call on a Sunday.

However, running a business is not a sole effort for the majority of the time. It takes an army, especially if the business owner lacks the necessary skills for marketing, web development, or even accounting.

When you need an additional skill set in your company which you currently do not have, outsourcing is your best option. This increasingly popular practice allows a business owner to receive the talent and workforce they need, but without requiring bringing a new member of staff into the business permanently.

Why Outsource?

As a business owner, if you currently lack a number of skills which could see your company grow and succeed, it can be daunting to begin the recruitment process. Plus, recruitment takes valuable time and valuable resources. You may end up spending a number of weeks trying to find a suitable candidate only for them to reject the job offer. In this event, it’s back to the beginning of the process.

An alternative path is to seek the assistance of a contractor or freelancer and outsource the role. This person will hold the qualifications and skill set you need to get the job done, except they won’t be hired for a full-time position. This way, once the task is complete, you have the option of working on another project together, or exchanging payment and thanking each other for their contributions.

When you choose to outsource, you reduce the risk of losing time, resources and money into a stressful recruitment period. Instead, you gain the experience and expertise your role requires with minimal fuss and effort.

What’s more, it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement — the business owner benefits by getting a project completed on time and within budget; the contractor benefits by earning a paycheck, boosting their experience and their reputation. After all, reputation within outsourcing is highly valuable.

What Should You Outsource?

Now you know why you should outsource, it’s time to learn what projects and roles you should outsource, including:

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a specialist skill on its own; you need to understand the many factors, such as SEO, PPC, copywriting, editing skills, social media, and so on. It’s also a rather time-consuming role, one which needs constant monitoring and measuring of which methods are successful, and which you need to change. Outsourcing digital marketing means you get the knowledge and expertise from a reputable marketer who can help drive your campaigns to success. For a fledgling business, it’s an essential role you cannot be without.

Security

In the modern age, security is extremely crucial for all businesses. With so much private data being held on our systems, it’s critical that it’s protected at all costs. A data breach or ransom can be devastating for enterprises of all sizes, and even be the reason why a company fails. However, an experienced Chief Information Security Officer is an expensive role, something brand new businesses can’t always afford. Therefore, opting to outsource CISO is a cost-effective solution.

Web Development

If you don’t have a website, you won’t get very far in today’s digital world. It’s your virtual storefront, and as such, it needs to be attractive and easy to navigate. Website development and coding is a specialist skill, but your website isn’t something to cut corners over. Choosing to outsource your web design needs means you receive a visually stunning and technically correct site from the experts without the high price tag.

8 Easy Ways Any Company Can Improve Inventory Management

StrategyDriven Tactical Execution ArticleProper inventory management is one of the keys to keeping your business running smoothly and remaining profitable. Make mistakes here, and you may run out of best sellers, buy products you don’t need, and waste resources you can’t afford to lose. Here are eight essential inventory management tips every business should follow. We’ll focus on universal advice that almost any firm can implement.

Manage Inventory via Software

Don’t rely on spreadsheets to track software. Spreadsheets can be deleted. Cell values could be deleted or overwritten. Formulas may be altered, scrambling values elsewhere in the spreadsheet.

One of the best ways to manage inventory is by using software designed for this task instead. The ideal case is switching to inventory management software that integrates with your accounting system. Then the inventory is automatically updated as you sell items or buy more. That is why a QuickBooks Inventory management tool is invaluable – it is already tied to software you already use. QuickBooks lacks serial numbers, scanning barcodes and shipping. An inventory management tool can handle all of this. There are several tools that will allow you adjust stock levels in inventory checks and automatically remove inventory from stock when you receive orders so you don’t accidentally sell more than you actually have on hand. They will also help you track items reserved for sales orders and you can track inventory status, such as when you’re waiting for products to arrive so you can fill outstanding orders.

Have Clear Product Names

If you want to avoid problems with customer orders and internal inventory management, have a clear product naming system. You could use manufacturer part numbers, though this may be confusing if different manufacturers use similar part numbers for very different products. The ideal situation is creating internal part numbers that make it very obvious what someone is picking up. Instead of CRAY008 and CRAY016 for crayons in boxes of 8 and 18, label them “crayons, set of 8” and “crayons, set of 16”.

Set Minimum Stock Levels

Nearly every inventory management system allows you to set minimum stock levels, and most have reorder points. This ensures that you won’t run out of items. The best inventory management systems allow you to calculate reorder points based on historical data so you can order items based on how quickly you actually consume the product. You can still set low inventory alerts to ensure that you never run out.

Implement FIFO

FIFO is first in, first out inventory management. This is one of the oldest inventory management techniques, and it remains one of the most popular. A major reason of this is that it minimizes spoilage and the associated waste, since you’re selling the oldest items first. This isn’t limited to perishable goods that can spoil; it is applicable to other products, as well. Move your oldest products first so that they don’t become obsolete due to changes in packaging or industry standards. It simply requires setting up inventory so that the oldest items are on the front of the shelf and picked by employees, though you’ll want to train people to check expiration dates. You’ll also have to train staff to ensure that the FIFO system is properly maintained, instead of someone hurriedly stocking the front of each shelf with the newest products.

Keep the Warehouse Organized

If the warehouse itself is disorganized, how can you reasonably expect your staff to keep your inventory organized? Don’t let crates of packaged inventory pile up in aisles; have them immediately emptied and the shelves stocked. Keep work surfaces as clean as possible. Make certain that items are clearly labeled.

Also, make sure that you have formal processes for each task. Document how people perform tasks like placing purchase orders, receiving items, fulfilling orders and checking stock levels.

Do Regular Checks

Inventory management systems don’t eliminate the need to do inventory checks. People may make mistakes when checking in deliveries or in their data entry. Theft, spoilage and property damage may erode your inventory, too.

There are two main ways to check inventory. One way is with a complete physical inventory – checking all inventories – usually done at the end of the month. The other way is with cycle counting, counting small sections of the inventory on a particular day. You can mix and match with these tactics, such as doing surface area cycle counts for particular aisles in the warehouse each day but checking large physical item inventory every quarter or year.

Prioritize with an ABC System

An ABC system allows you to prioritize inventory checks and product maintenance. The “A” items are high value items that have low turnover. “B” items have some value and sell at a steady rate. “C” items have low value but sell in large numbers. “A” items should be checked for spoilage, maintenance and theft regularly, since you have so much money tied up in them. “B” items are a lower priority, since they don’t cost you as much but do move steadily. “C” items require little attention since they move quickly and cost very little, though you’ll want to make sure you have enough in stock.

Only Order with Purchase Orders

Only place orders via purchase orders. Don’t let employees place orders over the phone with your vendors. They may order items you don’t really need or can’t afford to buy at this point. By requiring people to order via a purchase order, it forces every purchase to be checked against inventory levels and the budget. No one orders an item that’s already on its way from the supplier. It creates a paper trail so that no one is surprised by a delivery of widgets. There’s no confusion regarding the payment terms or rush to figure out how to pay for something that just hit the dock. It ensures that inventory knows when to expect delivery and gives management a chance to negotiate purchase prices.

You cannot afford for the gap between accurate inventory numbers and bookkeeping to grow. This knowledge gap prevents your firm from being able to plan for the future or know the true state of operations.

The Big Picture of Business – Ethics… Good for Business

StrategyDriven Big Picture of Business ArticleIn order to succeed and thrive in modern society, all private and public sector entities must live by codes of ethics. In an era that encompasses mistrust of business, uncertainties about the economy and growing disillusionments within society’s structure, it is vital for every organization to determine, analyze, fine-tune and communicate their value systems.

Corporate Responsibility is more than just a statement that a committee whips together. It is more than a slogan or rehash of a Mission Statement. It is an ongoing dialog that companies have with themselves. It is important to teach business domestically and internationally that:

  1. We must understand how to use power and influence for positive change.
  2. How we meet corporate objectives is as important as the objectives themselves.
  3. Ethics and profits are not conflicting goals.
  4. Unethical dealings for short-term gain do not pay off in the long-run.
  5. Good judgment comes from experience, which, in turn comes from bad judgment.
  6. Business must be receptive–not combative–to differing opinions.
  7. Change is 90% beneficial. We must learn to benefit from change management, not to become victims of it.

Corporate Responsibility relates to every stage in the evolution of a business, leadership development, mentoring and creative ways of doing business. It is an understanding how and why any organization remains standing and growing…instead of continuing to look at micro-niche parts.

Integrity is personal and professional. It is about more than the contents of a financial report. It bespeaks to every aspect of the way in which we do business. Integrity requires consistency and the enlightened self-interest of doing a better job.

Financial statements by themselves cannot nor ever were intended to determine company value. The enlightened company must be structured, plan and benchmark according to all seven categories on my trademarked Business Tree™: core business, running the business, financial, people, business development, Body of Knowledge (interaction of each part to the other and to the whole) and The Big Picture (who the organization really is, where it is going and how it will successfully get there).

One need not fear business nor think ill of it because of the recent corporate scandals. One need not fear globalization and expansion of business because of economic recessions. It is during the downturns that strong, committed and ethical businesses renew their energies to move forward. The good apples polish their luster in such ways as to distance from the few bad apples.

Corporate Responsibility means operating a business in ways that meet or exceed the ethical, legal, commercial and public expectations that society has of business. This is a comprehensive set of strategies, methodologies, policies, practices and programs that are integrated throughout business operations, supported and rewarded by top management.

Corporate Sustainability aligns an organization’s products and services with stakeholder expectations, thereby adding economic, environmental and social value. This looks at how good companies become better.

Corporate Governance constitutes a balance between economic and social goals and between individual and community goals. The corporate governance framework is there to encourage the efficient use of resources and equally to require accountability for community stewardship of those resources.

As part of strategic planning, ethics helps the organization to adapt to rapid change, regulatory changes, mergers and global competition. It helps to manage relations with stakeholders. It enlightens partners and suppliers about a company’s own standards. It reassures other stakeholders as to the company’s intent.


About the Author

Hank MoorePower Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.

Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.

Power Stars to Light the Business Flame is now out in all three e-book formats: iTunes, Kindle, and Nook.

5 Ways in Which Outsourcing is Leading Today’s Companies to Massive Growth

StrategyDriven Tactical Execution ArticleThere was a time when the term ‘outsourcing’ brought fear and trembling to almost everyone from company directors to the lowest hourly wage worker. However, in recent years, there has been a general awakening to the many benefits outsourcing has for companies large and small. If you still have all, or part of, your company’s operations in-house, you might want to look at these five ways in which outsourcing is leading other companies just like yours to massive growth faster than they ever thought possible.

1. The Cost Factor

Although there are many reasons why businesses aren’t making the profits they had projected, the cost of keeping in-house staff is one of the biggest expenditures any company will deal with. Not only are there salaries to pay, but all those peripheral expenses such as benefits packages, health insurance, training and so forth, chip away at their bottom line. However, even at reduced operational costs of which staffing increasingly eats a huge portion of any budget, there are so many other benefits to outsourcing that labor has taken a backseat to those previously unthought of advantages.

2. Professional Expertise as Close as the Cloud

Many small to medium sized businesses already contract the services of outsourced professionals, such as accountants and marketing strategists, but haven’t yet understood that those services can be classified as outsourced! Over the past few years, businesses are going farther afield when seeking those services because of the cloud. Today it is possible to hire an accounting service in New York City, for example, when your base of operations is in Portland, Oregon. Whether you are looking for a marketing strategist or a corporate accountant, this company offers services in the cloud that are both cost and time effective.

3. Top Talent within Easy Reach

Almost every profession has become highly competitive and so the search for the top talent could take more time than you have to spare. Even though you can list key positions for which you are hiring online, it can take weeks, if not months to find the right fit for your company culture. While there are still those positions which must be kept in-house, many professional jobs can be effectively outsourced because there is no need to keep them on the premises. As mentioned above, accounting and marketing are two of those professional services which can be safely and easily outsourced. Of course, you couldn’t very well outsource a job on a production line, but you could outsource many key positions effectively.

4. Company Expansion Doesn’t Require Larger Premises

Oftentimes a company grows so large that they need to expand their current base of operations or move to larger premises. When you can outsource a number of your key positions, there may never be a need for bigger buildings, larger parking lots and additional equipment and machinery. Office positions are some of the easiest to outsource and if you aren’t completely comfortable with outsourcing in the Cloud, you could always hire flexible workers who only spend a part of their work week on site. Many work from home most of the week with only occasional trips to the office.

In fact, the need to do that is even less frequent than previously because files can be uploaded to the Cloud, meetings can be teleconferenced, and with instant communications via email or services like Evernote, there is often no reason to ever physically report to work. If you would like to hold tighter control, then flexible workers are to your advantage, but outsourced positions can still fill a void at a reduced cost to your company.

5. Advances in Technology at No Extra Cost

Then there are technological advances to be cognizant of. Every day technology is advancing at the speed of light and the cost of keeping up with all that technology can be prohibitive. When outsourcing, the company doing the actual work is going to be ultimately responsible for staying on the cutting edge of technology which means that your company doesn’t need to pay for anything but the services or products they have been outsourcing right along. This is one of the most amazing advantages to outsourcing in the 21st Century and why so many companies prefer to outsource even the most critical jobs. It’s almost impossible to stay current on technology within all departments of your enterprise.

It’s a New World After All

There are still those who believe that outsourcing will knock workers out of jobs. In reality, outsourcing can provide many more jobs than previously thought possible because of the massive growth most companies realize when expanding through outsourced services and production. They may not be jobs in your local area but they are jobs nonetheless. You can work for, or hire someone from, literally any state in the country which is a definite advantage most of the time.

Perhaps what is really at stake here is keeping those jobs within the United States. There is no reason to send work overseas if those services are available at reasonable costs within our borders. Did you ever stop to think that outsourcing can help to keep costs lower for everyone involved? Whether you are a manufacturer proud of bearing the “Made in America” insignia or a highly qualified professional seeking to find work in your field, outsourcing can be kept at home and at reasonable costs.

From a worker’s perspective, there is no reason why you can’t find work as a self-employed outsourcer if you have gained some amount of proficiency at your job. Everyone benefits and your work can help to keep America’s companies strong and growing stronger by the day. Instead of fearing outsourcing as a dirty word to be eliminated from the English language, embrace it as a way forward in the 21st Century. Everyone benefits when our companies are kept strong, and the above mentioned benefits clearly show you how outsourcing can be a vital part of that process. Now it’s simply up to you to decide ways in which outsourcing can be of benefit to you.