Category Archives: Business

21st Century Leaders – Present Strategic Actions from each Follower

Strategies are of little value if they are not implemented effectively. But implementation is difficult in an already busy schedule.

Unless each follower can see where they fit and what they need to contribute; the chances of a strategy being effectively implemented are low. The key is to explicitly show each follower what they need to do, when and with whom. This may sound impossible, but I will tell you how it can be done.

Firstly let’s consider some of the workplace dynamics that work against implementing a strategy:

  • There is not enough time to do everything that needs to be done
  • Action plans are poorly aligned to strategic plans
  • Leaders are unsure about what is actually happening
  • Followers find it hard to identify exactly when and how they need to contribute to a strategy
  • Important actions are sometimes missed or forgotten, so workflows are interrupted
  • Complete lists of actions are rare, so personal time management is hard
  • Often followers are not aware of the consequences of not doing an action allocated to them
  • Relevant changes are poorly communicated to the people who need to know
  • Followers see telling other people what they are doing as wasted (unproductive) time

To overcome these unhelpful workplace dynamics, we need to do the following:

  • Break strategic plans into a number of related action plans
  • Identify the actions required to complete each action plan
  • Populate each follower’s ToDo list with the actions they need to do for the strategic plan
  • Make responsibility and accountability clear
  • Keep followers informed about relevant changes
  • Automate reporting based on actions completed to minimize unproductive time

Unfortunately the level of training and discipline required to implement the above list of actions is unrealistic and unachievable in real life. However experience in many workplaces has shown that a leader using smart software on web or mobile browsers can create a leadership platform to implement the above list of actions with relative ease.

The key is to let the software execute the boring, but essential, management processes in the background and present relevant information from each person’s perspective. This keeps leaders informed, frees followers to do productive work, and gets strategies implemented in record time.

For more information on TASKey’s Leadership Platform visit

Use SMART Objectives to Focus Goals, Plans, and Performance

What’s so smart about SMART? Why has this acronym become part of the vocabulary of project planning and performance management?

Objectives that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Aligned, Realistic/Relevant, and Time-bound) are likely to be achieved. When generic, off-the shelf objectives get the SMART treatment, they emerge as targets that engage focus, action, feedback and learning. These targets assist development of individual work plans, and also provide a guidance system for supervisor-staff performance review discussions.

How Do You Write a SMART Objective Statement?

First, you must decide exactly what you expect to create, and how you will recognize it when it comes to be. Now put it in words: “Our Internet Marketing system produces a minimum of $3500 per month in product sales by 31 July 2009, with a quarterly increase of at least 5% thereafter. ” The Specific, Measurable, and Time-bound aspects are built into one short declaration.

Will it happen? Much depends on whether your objective is aligned with things that really matter to you (and your organization), and whether you can commit the resources to bring it about. In individuals and in organizations, resource distribution often reflects past priorities and requirements. As you develop your SMART objective, step back and compare proposed results with existing commitments in the larger organization or systems you serve. This broader perspective can help you decide if:

  • Your proposed result is consistent with and directly relevant to larger strategic goals and desired outcomes, and
  • Your proposed result has such great pay-off potential that it is worth the resource investment it requires.

    Taking on a new initiative usually means that something else must go. If you discover that current investments are not producing the gains you had hoped for, you know where you can harvest resources for endeavors you believe will be more fruitful.

    Now that your objective embodies the “Alignment” and “Realistic/Relevant” aspects of SMART, you are ready to use it as a target for work plans.

    Using SMART Objectives for Feedback and Learning

    In complex systems, feedback is the process of comparing a target state with current conditions to signal and control the need for adjustment. A thermostat, for example, provides feedback that enables the heating system to maintain its target temperature.

    In teams and organizations, feedback involves regular check-ins to compare anticipated results with current progress. Monitoring progress can be as simple as asking yourself these three questions:

  • Am I doing what I planned?
  • Is my work having the impact I anticipated (producing or moving toward the result targets established by my objectives)?
  • Are changes needed in my plan?

    These common-sense questions are the basis for fruitful self assessment, performance review discussions, and organizational learning about what works to produce desired results.

    Although the questions are straightforward, it may be tough to collect the data that will give you accurate and actionable answers.

    That’s where your SMART objective comes in. A SMART objective includes measures that you can track to gauge progress. In the Internet Marketing objective cited above, the measure of success is monthly sales income. In order to collect this data, you must have a systematic means of logging sales by date and tracking their source. If your current systems cannot do this, change them to provide these data or find another measure of success.

    At their heart, SMART objectives contain the potential to focus attention, work plans, and commitment to performance targets. Because meaningful and practical measures are built in, SMART objectives also enable feedback and learning that can keep you on track to success.

    If you would like to learn more about creating and using SMART objectives to achieve individual, team, or organizational outcomes, visit and the consult, facilitate, or coach sections of

    From Susan Berry and Randy Thomas – The “Working Together” Team

    Copyright 2008 Aligned for Results LLC by R. Thomas and S. Berry, All rights reserved.

    You are free to reproduce this article as long as 1) no changes are made, 2) the title, authors’ names, tag line, and the copyright notice are retained without changes, and 3) all links remain intact and active.

  • Ever Thought About Owning a Spy Store?

    Admit it. You love hanging out at your local spy store or looking at spy gadgets and other cool toys online. Right? Yeah.

    Have you ever thought about owning your own spy store? It’s not as crazy as it might sound at first. Sure, a decade or two ago you would have had to rent a storefront, advertise like crazy, carry a lot of inventory. . . but not these days.

    If you’re serious about owning your own spy store you can get started in just a few hours by finding a supplier, setting up an eBay account, and setting up some auctions. You can be a spy store owner tomorrow, if you’re determined. And if it goes well, you can set up an eBay store and even set up your own website.

    If you’re strictly thinking in terms of making money, then setting up a spy store online is probably not your best option. You’re not going to rake in the bucks, especially at first, but over time, as your spy store gains a reputation and you get more repeat customers, you could do quite well.

    The thing is, if you’re primarily interested in the financial end of things, there are probably way easier ways to make money than owning a spy store But if you’re interested in gadgetry, love to talk and hang out with other spy gadget fans, and want to say you own a spy store this could be the business for you.

    So if this is so easy, why isn’t everyone doing it? First off, while setting up your own spy store can be very simple, you do need the dedication to keep the store running, deal with customers, and make a success of your store Second, most people looking to start a business never think of opening a spy store You don’t see lots of business articles talking about the importance of starting your own spy shop, after all.

    But if you’re thinking about starting a business, it’s hard to beat owning your own spy store isn’t it?

    T Rasmussen is a former private investigator, now owns a spy store, and does consulting on crime prevention for small retail businesses.

    Guccis Earnings Decline 97% As Tourism Slump Hurts Stores

    The Gucci Group said today that its first-quarter earnings plunged 97 percent as the company suffered through the effects of the war in Iraq, an epidemic in Asia and a strengthening euro.

    Much of the shopping at Gucci’s biggest stores around the world is done by tourists who tend to spend more when they are on vacation. But fears of terrorism and severe acute respiratory syndrome kept many tourists at home this spring. Fewer travelers also meant lower sales at Gucci’s duty-free shops in airports.

    And with consumer confidence sagging, Gucci and its rivals are struggling to persuade shoppers to spend hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars for their shoes and bags.

    ”They had many things working against them in the quarter, and there was not much more they could have done, ” said Patrizio Pazzaglia, the head of asset management in Italy for Bank Insinger de Beaufort, a Dutch bank. ”We will see the same story repeated when other luxury-goods companies report in the coming weeks. ”

    Gucci earned 1.2 million euros ($1.4 million) in the three months ended April 30, compared with 35.5 million euros in the same period last year. Revenue declined about 7 percent, and the company reported its first operating loss since it first sold shares to the public eight years ago.

    The strength of the euro, which has risen about 15 percent this year against the dollar, also hurt Gucci’s results. The Italian company, which is registered in the Netherlands, has less profit when it converts earnings made in dollars, yen and other currencies into euros.

    In addition to selling clothing, shoes, jewelry and bags under its own name, Gucci owns the Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and Bottega Veneta brands. The French retailer Pinault-Printemps-Redoute owns a majority of Gucci’s shares and has agreed to buy the remaining 36 percent by the end of next year.

    In an interview with Reuters, the chief executive of Gucci
    , Domenico de Sole, called the combination of factors that hurt tourism and the economy a ”perfect storm. ”

    But he was upbeat about the rest of the year, saying there were indications that the current quarter would be ”dramatically different” from the first quarter. ”I expect a significant improvement, ” he told Reuters. ”The only areas that remain soft are Italy and France, because tourism is not back. ”

    American depository shares of Gucci rose 61 cents today, to $98.71, on the New York Stock Exchange. When the world’s $60 billion luxury-goods industry does make a comeback – and some analysts say that might not happen until at least the beginning of next year – and when Americans and Japanese again visit Europe in droves, Gucci will be in a good position to benefit, Mr. Pazzaglia of Bank Insinger de Beaufort said.

    ”Gucci is hurting now because of a lot of factors outside of its control, but it remains a brand with worldwide recognition that people are willing to pay a premium for, ” he said.

    Photo: A Gucci store in London. Yesterday Gucci reported its first operating loss since it began selling shares to the public eight years ago.

    Please wait for more articles from me. Thanks!!

    You can find Gucci at our site

    Anatomy Of A PR Campaign

    The message is determined by analyzing the brand being marketed, and doing so with clear vision and self-knowledge. Too many marketing executives rely on their own concept of the brand’s identity, and never bother to discover what attributes the public has assigned to a product. Just because you’ve decided that you want to project a certain image doesn’t mean that’s the image you’re projecting. Extremely high-profile marketing campaigns have failed because not enough market research and communication with the consuming public were done.

    For example:

    When AT&T Wireless decided to consolidate its wireless phone, pager, and Internet technology into something called mlife, it gave the public examples of what the company meant. Unfortunately, the public still doesn’t understand, and has no idea what the m stands for (it is messaging).

    United Airlines has long invited the public to “fly the friendly skies of United. ” The public has noticed that the experience on the plane is not terribly friendly, and is now distrustful of all airlines’ claims.

    The criteria for effective public relations messages should be: (1) is it true? (2) Is it unusual? (3) Is it interesting?

    On the other hand, if a company already exists in the marketplace, a new message will have to be identified. For retail companies, the addition of a new product category or a price reduction are always effective messages.

    Sales promotions, particularly very public or extremely unusual ones, make good messages. Anything out of the ordinary being done by the company in the name of public service or community aid is a legitimate message.

    In order for the message to be even rudimentarily effective, it absolutely must be true. Remember, the message is being disseminated by the legitimate news media; a false message will be discovered and exposed, and win immediately brand the company negatively. It will do more damage than having no message at all, and such situations must be avoided at all costs.

    Unique messages are going to be more noticeable and more attractive to the gatekeepers who determine which stories are told and which are not. So an unusual message-something a company is doing that no one else has considered or been creative enough to conceive-will be considerably more successful than one that seems tired or old simply because it has been seen before.

    It goes without saying that the message must be interesting. If it is unique, unusual, and true, but without any interest to the general public, the message being delivered will most likely never find the light of day. If it does, it will undoubtedly be ignored, or worse, ridiculed. Many companies make the mistake of assuming that if a message seems unusual and interesting to them, it will be those things for the general consuming public. People in business tend to find their business fascinating; it is the thing they spend most of their time thinking about, so they are more knowledgeable about and concerned with their business than any casual observer or consumer would be. That is only natural and proper. But it is far too easy to make the miscalculation that a message that might be fascinating to an industry insider-for example, “Ours is the only paper bag made with 100 percent maple fibers”-will also be of interest to a casual user of the product. In almost every case, that assumption will be proven untrue.

    So, commununication with the consuming public is an essential component to any successful Branding venture. Discovering from the public what its true feelings are about the brand identity being contemplated, as well as any changes being discussed concerning an existing brand identity, can help a wise marketer avoid miscalculations that can prove disastrously costly and possibly fatal to the brand, the product, or the company.

    This is not to imply that the public must be allowed to dictate all Branding decisions, however. What’s more important is for anyone involved in Branding to have a clear-eyed view of their brand identity. Wal-Mart remains a wildly successful brand by not trying to be Tiffany’s. McDonald’s, although it has slipped precipitously as a trusted brand in recent years, still has the good sense not to hire Wolfgang Puck to rethink its hamburger recipe.

    When a Branding professional loses sight of the original mission-that is, the brand identity-and tries to be all things to all people, the results are almost always calamitous. The archetypal example of New Coke works as a warning about so many different Branding errors that it seems cliched to mention it, but consider: The fundamental miscalculation being made was the level of loyalty the average Coca-Cola drinker had for what was, and remains, unquestionably the most well-known, best-loved brand identity on this planet. To think it was a good idea to remove this beloved product-in favor of a formula that emulated the competition and was bound to alienate Coca-Cola loyalists who had stuck with the brand, in some cases, for decades-is astonishing.


    Public relations can operate effectively only when a clear, realistic brand identity has been conceived. Certainly, PR, professionals can be part of the team that establishes that identity, but it must be, above all else, a true identity. That means it must have specific attributes, specific philosophical tenets, and, most important, a few basic promises made to the consumer that will never, ever be broken.

    These promises, which should be written down in the simplest language possible and distributed on a regular basis to every employee of the company, are a covenant made with the public. They define the brand identity; they provide reasons to patronize the brand; and they offer, at the most basic level, differentiation from all competing brands. They are never to be taken lightly by any employee, and under no circumstances are they ever to be broken for any reason.

    If your business is a store that sells items that cost $1 apiece, you must never charge $1.05 for anything. If your restaurant prides itself on cleanliness, the rest rooms have to be absolutely spotless anytime anyone walks in. If your promise is that every customer will be served within 30 seconds of entering, you’d better have a stopwatch on every employee’s wrist and be sure it’s operating accurately.

    The promises your business makes are the central core of that business. If you’ve promised to provide the longest hot dogs in town, and you provide them, no reasonable person is going to complain that you don’t have the best crepes suzettes as well-unless you’ve promised that too.

    It’s extremely important that the promises you make flow from your brand identity. Understand what you are to the public and what is expected of you, and you can make bold but realistic promises. Try to provide every solution to every problem, and you win end up providing nothing that is the least bit effective.

    Consider, for example, the Disney brand. Here is a company whose name and logo are recognized in every country on the planet, whose message is received and understood everywhere from Beverly Hills to Beirut. It was once estimated that Mickey Mouse was the most recognized figure anywhere on Earth, more than the president of the United States, more than Tom Cruise, actually more than Santa Claus (who is famous in only about one-third of the world’s countries).

    On the surface, Disney might appear to offer all things to all people. Besides its movies and television programs under the Walt Disney name, it also produces entertainment under the Touchstone and Hollywood Pictures banners. Disney has a network television show on a network it owns (ABC), and also provides programming on cable TV via the Disney Channel and ABC Family. The company owns theme parks in California, Florida, Japan, and France. It also owns ESPN, publishing companies, video distribution companies, real estate, and retail stores. Disney logos appear on merchandise ranging from souvenir Mickey Mouse ears to fashions created by re
    spected designers, electronics, calendars, furniture, musical instruments, sound recordings, and timepieces. Disney produces Broadway shows. It even owns a town in Florida.

    But no matter how widely it casts its net, Disney always promises its customers the same things: high quality, fanatical customer service, and a dedication to the family. It might produce some R-rated movies under its Touchstone, Miramax, or Hollywood Pictures umbrella, but never with the Disney name. It will provide scary thrill rides in its theme parks, but you’d better believe the streets in that park will be clean and the “cast members” who work there will find a way to solve virtually any problem a guest might have during the stay. Guests at Walt Disney World are never told, “We can’t do that”; they are always given at least an alternative solution. Maybe the ABC network will broadcast NYPD Blue, which offers controversial language and partial nudity, but the Disney Channel won’t ever consider such a thing. If Disney produces a show on Broadway, you can rest assured that children will be admitted and the content will not offend their parents.

    Disney has become the tremendous conglomerate it is today by making promises to its consumers and keeping them consistently since the company’s inception. Anything that bears the Disney name has a special trust, a covenant with the consumer, and Disney lives up to that covenant every single time.

    It’s easy to ridicule the seemingly fanatical insistence Disney has on referring to its employees as cast members, in considering the consequences of every word spoken on every program its networks air, in not allowing its male employees to grow beards, or in its sanitized image that seems unrealistic in modern society. But it would be foolish to attack the surface of the Disney brand and overlook the unprecedented success it has enjoyed for a number of decades. The company continues to grow, but never for a moment does it take its covenant, the promises it makes to its audience for granted.

    Go to the Disney Web site at and you’ll see the company’s dedication to its core philosophy at work with every click. Want to discuss a vacation at Walt Disney World in Florida? You can book your vacation, including airfare, car rental, hotel, and theme park tickets, through Disney online. If you need personal assistance, phone numbers are always available. News about upcoming movies from the Disney studios can be found, including coming attractions trailers. Games are available for children and adults. Want to buy some Disney merchandise? The Disney Store has an online catalog. There is always the option of speaking to a Disney representative with any question or concern you might have. And the Disney Web site is careful not to provide links to ABC, Touchstone, or Miramax, because those companies deal in material that, although affiliated with the parent company, does not conform to the Disney brand. They are separate brands and are treated separately. They have their own Web sites.

    While the philosophy is not directly presented to the consumer in words, it is not in the least difficult to discern or understand. Disney will provide you with high-quality, attentive customer service and a dedication to family. It’s there on the Web site, in the theme parks, and in the entertainment provided by the company under its own name. Under no circumstances does the Disney Company ever renege on those promises, and it holds firm to them in every aspect of its branded business.

    On those occasions when there is even the suggestion of a break with the covenant, Disney works swiftly to correct the situation. When some video copies of its animated film The Little Mermaid were rumored to have an off- color visual joke in three frames (1/8 of a second), the company made sure the rumors were dispelled, and the offending three frames, although they really didn’t contain what the rumors said they did, were cut from subsequent copies. Disney takes its covenant very seriously.


    Everything impacts on Branding-the smell of the bathroom, the signs in the window, the product being sold in the store, the things people say. One of the most powerful things that impacts all people’s perceptions is what they read, see, or hear about in the media, because it carries with it the imprimatur of the media outlet.

    To illustrate: If a garage band pays to produce its own CD and sends out fliers to every record store in the country saying the album is a breakthrough collection, it won’t carry a fraction of the impact that same CD win have if someone on MTV uses the exact same words, because now the brand of the garage band has been enhanced with the brand MTV.

    The old saying, “There is no such thing as bad publicity” is absolutely incorrect, however. Having a brand’s name mentioned in the media is a very strong influencer, and it can cut both ways. Should a media outlet say something negative about a brand-even if the information is proven to be totally inaccurate-the negative repercussions on the brand identity can be devastating. It can take a lot of damage control, in the form of advertisement, retractions from media outlets, and strong statements from the brand itself, to undo one misplaced comment from a credible media outlet. Sometimes the damage can’t be controlled or undone.

    When public relations is done properly, an item of information is disseminated to media gatekeepers, who then decide to report the information either directly or indirectly. Reportage is done, research is accumulated, interviews are performed. Eventually the information item becomes a media report, and it is at that moment that the public relations professional can no longer control it entirely. Media outlets-particularly the most desirable, most credible ones- operate autonomously, reporting the information they deem necessary or interesting and excluding all else. Time constraints, space limitations, and the realities of economics play as prominent a role in the decision-making process as the newsworthiness of the information being considered.

    If a company is launching a new brand, the temptation will exist to try to saturate the market with information on that brand. Often, when my company is contacted about the creation of a new brand or a new product, the request will be, “Get us as much exposure as you can. ” That is absolutely the wrong thing to request at that time, because it is not a strategic position.

    Such a company should be requesting a strategic plan that is consistent with their short-, middle-, and long-term goals. (Short-term is defined as 6 months, mid-term as 18 months, and long-term as 36 months. ) It’s very important to define those goals before seeking media exposure, because the lack of a goal is the lack of a plan, and that will obliterate any hope of Branding before it ever has the opportunity to begin.

    In Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, there is a marvelous moment in which Alice, trying to find her way through the maze that is Wonderland, asks the Cheshire Cat for direction. The cat asks, quite logically, where Alice’s destination might be, and she replies that she doesn’t care where she ends up, but needs to know which road to take. Told that Alice doesn’t care where she’s going, the Cat replies, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go. “

    Companies that want to create brands but don’t know what their specific goals are for the next 6, 18, or 36 months can’t possibly be expected to define their brand identity or the proper kind of media coverage they need to best exploit their brand’s possibilities.

    A good percentage of Americans believe that Elvis is still alive; there’s no accounting for what people might think. But the reality is that a Branding campaign, fueled by public relations efforts, will fail miserably if it doesn’t have specific, well-defined goals in place for various points in the future before it begins.

    How do the elite Branding experts determine their goals ahead of time and p
    ass that information on to public relations professionals? It helps to be first in your field. Those companies that came to the marketplace before anyone else – Wal-Mart, Johnson & Johnson, Kleenex, Coca-Cola, Disney, McDonald’s-had an advantage before they generated their first media placement. Nobody was ahead of them, and they knew precisely what they intended to do.

    Keep in mind that most of those brands established themselves very early with very little (in many cases, close to no) advertising budget to work with. They managed to create an impression in the minds of consumers without spending millions in magazines and newspapers or on radio or television (in those cases when radio and television existed at the brand’s inception).

    They did it almost exclusively with public relations. These companies had a plan, a course of action, long before they had a brand name or a brand identity. They projected the possible sales for their products and services and had realistic goals for the coming six months, the coming year, the coming three years. In many cases, those goals were far exceeded, due in large part to the brilliant public relations campaigns that had been launched and executed to establish and support the brand. Without those plans, goals, and projections, there would have been no road map-and, as the Cheshire Cat would say, there would be no point in choosing one road over another, since it wouldn’t matter where you ended up anyway.

    It is extremely important, then, to set realistic goals. In order to do that, the smart Branding practitioner needs to have a clear-eyed view of his or her own product and company. Only with that can a true brand identity be created, one that will capture the imagination of the targeted consumer and differentiate the new brand from whatever competition currently exists or will exist in the future. Keep in mind that even those who were first ended up dealing with competition. Kleenex may be the most famous brand of tissue available today, but it is far from the only one on the market.

    Michael Levine is the founder of the prominent public relations firm Levine Communications Office, based in Los Angeles. He is the author of Guerrilla PR, 7 Life Lessons from Noah’s Ark: How to Survive a Flood in Your Own Life. is a resource for people that want to get famous in the media, without going broke.

    What? You Havent Got a Capability Statement?

    What’s a Capability Statement?

    As the name suggests, it tells potential clients what you, or your organisation and staff are capable of. It highlights what your future capability is and reflects on your past successes.

    Capability statements are usually produced as brochures or booklets and are now increasingly appearing in online formats eg, HTML, PDF and self-executable ebooks. (The Entrepreneur Magazine section of “The Weekend Australian” of 25 Feb 2005 ran an article advising that legal and other professional firms are now using electronic media for their capability information). Include your logo, corporate colours and graphics so that your market develops corporate identity and branding recognition.

    Some organisations and individuals prefer to call them Corporate Brochures, Organisational Profiles, Prospectus’ etc. Capability Statement seems to be the preferred terminology and is, in my opinion, more accurate and descriptive.

    The better Capability Statements produced as printed documents are graphics intense, professionally laid out and attractively produced on hiqh quality papers. The simplest form can be produced in black and white or colour on a cheap laser or inkjet printer.

    Why have a Capability Statement?

    When prospective clients enquire about your services or products, you send them a Capability Statement. If they visit your Internet site and don’t want to spend time reading about you and your organisation, they can download your Capability Statement file and read it when more convenient.

    Clients may pass your capability statement to others when recommending your services. You can send one with your proposals, publicity materials, and on other occasions when the opportunity presents.

    Clients may have dealt with you for years, but only buy the same service. They may have no idea you also provide other services they could use. Your Capability Statement spells out what you can do in addition to what you do for them now.

    If you don’t tell people what you do, how can you expect them to call you when they want something done?

    What’s in a Capability Statement?

    It’s not a dumb question! There are two trains of thought. One suggests that it should be chock full of verbage about how you can help your clients or prospective clients. The other view is that you simply tell them what you can do and let them decide whether they want your services.

    The latter option would suggest you include the following topics and any others you feel are relevant, not necessarily in the order shown:

    History: When did your firm commence operations and what has it done since commencement? (Keep it very, very short and succinct)

    What You Do: What can you do for clients or what do you sell? Do you need any special accreditations, certificates or licences to do what you do? If so, mention them.

    Our Staff: Who is your staff and what special qualifications, experience, awards etc has each staff member got that will help you provide services that are better than your competitors?

    Your Equipment or Resources: If you are renting training venues, hiring out equipment, or rely on resources to earn a living, place some photos in your brochures. As some smart fellow said, ‘A photo tells a thousand words’.

    Similarly if you have a special way of doing something, try to find evidence that supports it as being the best way, most economical, safest or whatever. For example, if you clean carpets for a living you’ll need to use cleaning materials that don’t cause fade, are not noxious, don’t harm animals or plants, are environmentally friendly and so on. You get the drift.

    Where You Find Us: Where is your office, venue, factory, or whatever? How does your client find you? Do you need to include a map?

    Contacting Us: Where can you be contacted by phone, fax, mobile telephone, letter, or email? Do you have an Internet site? Where?

    Client Testimonials: You can place a list of your clients here under the heading ‘Clients’ or you can write to your clients and ask them to provide testimony to the quality, cost effectiveness, or whatever of your service. Several of your longer term clients may be willing to accept telephone calls from people who are considering buying your goods or services. If so, include their contact details so that potential clients can talk with them.

    While a few, carefully chosen testimonials are good, too many can bog down an otherwise excellent Capability Statement. Don’t make it look like a testimonial contest! Nobody will read more than five or six.

    Finally . . .

    Once you have your Capability Statement, whether online, in hardcopy or both, make sure you have sufficient copies to circulate and a plan to upgrade it periodically so it remains current. After all, the last thing you want is for a prospective client to telephone you about a service you no longer provide.

    Copyright Robin Henry 2005.

    Robin Henry is an educator, human resources specialist and Internet marketer whose firm, Desert Wave Enterprises, helps individuals and businesses improve their performance by using smart processes, smart technology and personal development. He lives at Alice Springs In Central Australia.

    Visit Desert Wave Enterprises
    . Download a copy of our Capability Statement in Adobe PDF format.

    Free Resume Template: What Makes a Good One?

    You can drown in the “free resume examples, ” “free resume templates, ” and “free resume samples” on the web.

    In my opinion, a single thing makes one free resume template different from another: results.

    Find a free resume template that will help you create a resume that’ll win you a job.

    That means several things have to be true about this template you’re considering.

    First, it has to be able to produce a jaw-dropping summary at the top of page one. If it’ll only let you plug in an objective statement, even if it’s a good one, you won’t necessarily be able to produce the resume you want to. At least not the kind I’d recommend.

    Second, it has to be flexible. If you can’t rearrange things easily, or change fonts and formatting, you’ll be too locked in. It’ll be like a Soviet all-you-eat buffet. They give you a small plate of food and say, “There. That’s all you can eat. “

    Third, it has to have a professional, attractive layout. You want to STAND out, not STICK out. Go for a professional, probably more traditional look. The layout should include ample white space, simply because it “sells” better.

    Fourth, it has to be in Word format. If you’re dealing with software, it has to allow you to save or export to Word format. This is the industry standard. If you deliver something to a recruiter in electronic form, and it isn’t Word, you’ll be lucky if he contacts you to tell you to send a Word document. More likely, he’ll pass you by.

    If a free resume template (or one you’re considering buying) meets those criteria, it’s probably worth using. It’s a pretty short list.

    Notice that I didn’t say anything about fancy fonts, or software, or any bells and whistles at all.

    Those can be nice, maybe even helpful. They’re NOT necessary. Fire up Microsoft Word, load up your template, if necessary change the font to 11-point Times New Roman (a standard, atractive, and “safe” font), and start typing!

    A free resume template isn’t going to do the work for you. It simply might save you time on the more mundane tasks, like formatting the document.

    The job-winning content is all up to you.

    Copyright 2005 by Roy Miller

    An article by Roy Miller, creator of
    . He recently developed a simple, powerful, job-winning resume template package. You can get your FREE copy here: free resume template
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    Would you like never to need a resume again? Visit Roy’s new site to find out how.

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    Using Subcontractors – the Dos and Donts for IT Consulting Firms

    Your IT business is starting to grow. It’s still a bit quiet occasionally, but at other times you’re finding the workload a bit much. You don’t want to employ someone full-time, but someone part-time for specific tasks, depending on their expertise, may be useful.

    It is a good idea to get together a team of subcontractors BEFORE you need them, with different skills. If you wait for the first project where you may need help, you could find it will take too long to find the RIGHT subcontractor for the PROJECT.

    Check the references of any subcontractors who apply. Contact IT consulting firms they have worked for. They are representing your business. You also want to make sure you will not be spending more time fixing up their mistakes than if you did the work yourself. Remember, you are paying them. They need to be high quality.

    When you have decided on the subcontractor(s) you’re going to contract, get the paperwork done before you need them on a project. A contract between you and the subcontractor is essential and you should include a non-compete clause – you don’t want them stealing your business. A non-complete clause means that they must represent your company in any contact with the client and not be trying to arrange future work with them.

    But if you have any doubts about a subcontractor, even if their resume is impressive, it is better to trust your gut feelings. You don’t want people who will make your business – and your life – more difficult.

    Negotiations of payment are crucial for the subcontracting arrangement to work well. You can either pay upfront or wait for the client to pay you. Perhaps if you pay upfront it may be a lesser amount. You will need to consider your cash flow situation. Be especially careful of using a subcontractor for the first time. If they are reliable and their work is good you may able to trust them with an upfront payment.

    Always agree upfront what you will pay the subcontractor, and get it in writing with both of you signing. You don’t have to tell them how much the client is paying you. If you want someone with high quality skills and experience you need to be prepared to pay for it. Do some research into what subcontractors are being paid. Work out if this will fit into your budget.

    Have in writing exactly what you expect from your subcontractor. If they will be doing the same thing every time, make sure they have a copy at all times, and keep a signed copy on file. Also give them any project specific instructions, and obtain a signed copy from them.

    You must maintain an active role with the client and keep in regular contact. Keep a high profile and make it known you’re using subcontractors at the outset. Some clients may not like you outsourcing your work, in which case you should either undertake the work yourself or not take it on at all.

    Gregory Fitzgerald au/

    Greg Fitzgerald is a freelance writer who has produced this article for Get Somebody Now, the online database of IT contractors and consultants. Go to for more examples of Greg’s work.

    How to prevent sand casting defect: slag hole

    A variety of sand casting defects often occur in iron castings, how to prevent these defects has been a concern of sand casting plant. This article describes some knowledge of prevent the occurrence of slag hole in this area and practical experience according Dandong Foundry.

    Preventive measures of the slag hole

    1. Increase the temperature of hot liquid iron, vermicular iron and alloy cast iron. If time permits, rest before casting form some time in order to slag floating.

    2. To prevent oxidation of molten iron, iron foundry should control the nodulizer and the amount of inoculants strictly.

    3. Design the rational gating system and place the filter on-chip to improve the capacity to file slag. Place the best system on casting slag bag with a constant flow when pouring.

    4. When we cast sand ductile iron, the melt iron flows in the cavity of cast iron. Due to oxidation of molten iron or the various elements in iron liquid react with the material of casting and sand core, it will generate slag again. We often call it “secondary slag” (as distinct from the existence of “first slag”).

    This defects are often found only on the fracture surface, on surface of finished sand castings can, are often found by magnetic particle inspection. Such inclusions are mainly consisted of the oxide (MgO, SiO2, Feo …) and sulfide (MgS, FeS, MnS . ) and other inclusions.

    Preventive measures of secondary slag

    1. Control the residual amount of magnesium in liquid iron strictly, (general the mass fraction is 0.035% ~ 0.055%, if the wall is thin, it should be controlled at minimum; or it should be controlled at maximum. )

    2. Reduce the sulfur content of original molten iron, if condition permits, it is better to take some desulfurization methods, improve the processing temperature and pouring temperature. Desulfurization process of molten iron can substantially reduce the sulfur content which can effectively reduce the “secondary slag. ”

    3. Improve the rare earth content in the nodulizer, and reduce the magnesium content. It can help to reduce the temperature of molten iron crusting and reduce the “secondary slag” effectively.

    Slag holes will reduce the effective bearing area, cause the stress concentration around the pores and reduce casting fatigue resistance and impact resistance. No matter casting plants or persons who want to buy some sand casting should check carefully in order to avoid the defects.

    This article was from Dandong Foundry
    . For the whole article, please check Dandong Foundry Blog

    Internal and External Customers

    External customers are the company’s clients. They are people who purchase the products the company produces. They are of a great importance to the organization. There are also internal customers. They play an important role in the organization’s success as well. Internal customers are the staff that the company hires.


    The Internal customer e. g. your staff, will benefit significantly by good customer care. More effective management will lead to a more motivated workforce. It will also give you improved co-operation between your departments. Your staff will welcome the fact that you are willing to invest valuable time and money in them as individuals as well as a team, and will have more job security.


    Your External customers e. g. the members of the general public are the most important people to your organisation. Without these people coming into your shop and buying your furniture your business would not succeed. If a customer feels like she is interrupting your staff she will shop elsewhere in future, which will only result in a lost sale for your organisation. It is vitally important to make your External customer feel valued at all stages of the sale, Pre-sale, during sale and after sale. If your customer enjoys her experience and has a good time under your staff, then certainly she will use your organisation again.


    Every business wants to be successful. Otherwise why would you go into business in the first place? If your Internal customers are contented in their workplace and have good quality customer care training they will feel more motivated and confident. Also it will lower staff absenteeism and turnover of staff. In reality why should the staff want to leave a job they feel confident and secure in!

    The same good customer care given to your External customers will lead to success in your company. Your customers not only demand and expect your furniture to be of the best quality but also from the level of service they receive from your staff. Satisfied customers lead to fewer complaints for your staff to deal with, freeing up valuable time your staff could be more industrious in. The word of mouth recommendations your External customers will voice is in effect free advertising and this will without a doubt lead to improved reputation and most importantly to increased revenue.

    It is essential to identify the considerations prior to development of an effective customer care strategy. To provide a positive approach to customer care it is important to follow the main key issues.

    Identify customer’s needs – Knowing what your customer expects and wants from your organisation.

    Developing the right products and services – Once you discovered your customers needs it is then vitally important that you develop your product so that it will match your customers expectations.

    Measuring customer’s satisfaction – This requires constant and ongoing improvements, due to the changes in customer’s demands.

    Developing Internal systems – Providing your Internal customers with appropriate customer care leads to co-operation and support from all departments, which leads to the overall success of your organisation.

    Staff Training – It is essential for successful customer care that all staff is included in the training. It is vital that all the staff from the Cleaner to the Managing Director feel that they have an important role to play in the satisfaction of the needs in addition to wants of your customers.

    Mary Anne Winslow is a member of Essay Writing Service counselling department team and a dissertation writing consultant. Contact her to get free counselling on custom essay writing.