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Why Does My Business Need An Accountant?

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Why Does My Business Need An Accountant?

We often with speak with small business owners who rely upon DIY accounting programs. They say the program works good for them and makes operating their business a breeze. What we often find though is that even with the use of such programs, many business owners do not know the true profitability of their business. Or, if they have more that one office, they do not know which office is truly making money and which office is possibly losing money. Sometimes loan payments, income, and expenses are not being properly entered or categorized. Having an accountant will help your company to grow, move forward, and save on taxes.

Here are reasons why businesses need an accountant at all stages of growth:

1. Your business is in the startup phase:

There are many considerations when you are just starting your business:

  • Business Structure
  • Business Plan
  • Bank Accounts
  • Government Regulations
  • Location
  • Financing

You might think it’s too early to hire an accountant, but the way you set up your operations can have a serious impact on your future success. With my free Business Discovery Session,  I can help you to validate your business idea and help you to take the right steps the first time. Thus, being able to avoid spending more time and more money to correct mistakes later.

2. Your business has employees

In the first few years of operation, you may not feel you have enough work for an accountant. The truth, though, is that an accountant will have the specialized knowledge to make your money work for you even though you don’t have a huge workforce. The accountant can:

  • Help ensure employees and independent contractors are classified correctly
  • Oversee payroll and payment processes
  • Create appropriate timelines for sending W2s and 1099 forms

3. Allows you and your employees more time in money making activities

Time is a limited asset. The more time you can spend in marketing your business and consulting with clients and customers will produce more income than the monthly fees charged by an accountant. Having an accountant saves money on taxes and benefits paid to an employee in a non-money making activity. This employee can be reassigned to an activity that will make you money.

4. Your lender requests a financial statement

The Small Business Administration reports that small businesses borrowed over $6 billion last year. At some point your business will probably need additional funding, whether it’s for expansion, new equipment, purchasing property, or even establishing an emergency fund. Before you approach a lender, having an accountant prepare a financial statement can increase your chances of getting approved.

5. Your budget is falling short

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about half of all businesses will fail within five years of opening. Although there are many factors related to failure, not meeting budget goals can decrease the chances of your business survival. Having an accountant on hand to analyze your budget, assist in making changes and catch errors will help you make sure your budget is on target for success.

Questions to ask yourself before hiring an accountant:

  • Does your business planning match you financial forecast?
  • Have you read the tax code?
  • Do you have enough time to take care of all the accounting duties yourself?
  • Are you sure your employees are classified correctly?
  • Do you know what auditors look for when conducting an audit?
  • Do you know what needs to be in a financial statement?
  • Is your budget working for you?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you can benefit from hiring an accountant.  A free Mutual Exploration meeting will help you to determine if our Business Bundle is a good fit to help you grow your business and reach your goals.

Questions to Ask When Buying a Business

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Business
Questions to Ask When Buying a Business

Each year I learn about disasters that occur when my clients or others either buy or start a business. Why do these disasters happen? Many times the problems start because of consulting the attorney and the banker, but not consulting their tax professional. Why is it necessary to consult a tax professional when starting or buying a business? With good planning and discussion tax issues can be avoided and tax liabilities can be minimized by working with a tax professional even before buying or starting a business. If you wait until tax season to inform your tax professional, you could then be facing a large tax bill.  And, the ability to take advantage of any additional tax deductions for the start-up year is greatly reduced.

When you consider buying a business, there are many tax and accounting questions that have to be asked. You need to consult tax professional not working for the current business owner. This is even more necessary if you have been working in the accounting department for the company you are looking to buy.

Some points about buying a business you need to consider are:

  • What type of entity is the business you are looking to buy?
  • If the business is a corporation, will I be buying the stock of the corporation or the assets of the corporation?
  • What type of business entity is best for my situation?

These are only a few of the questions a prospective business owner must get answered before signing any papers to purchase a business. The answer to these and many other questions will determine how the buying and operating of the business will affect your tax situation.

I highly recommend scheduling an appointment with an Enrolled Agent, like myself  for a Free Business Discovery Session, when you consider either starting a business or buying a business. By consulting with me now, you will save on tax payments and tax headaches later.

Am I Planning for Success or Disaster? Business Startup and Taxes

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Business
Am I Planning for Success or Disaster? Business Startup and Taxes

Your have the idea. You have the skill of a trade for which you are passionate. You believe there is a need in your area or on the internet for your services. Where to begin is the BIG question. What kind of business structure should I have? A sole-proprietorship? An LLC? A Corporation? A Partnership? To whom should I go visit first, an attorney, the banker, or my tax person?  To often when starting a new business the prospective new business owner goes either to the attorney and/or the banker first and never considers their tax person. Many times the tax person does not learn of the business until the time comes to file the tax return. In fact, the first stop when looking to start the business should be to the tax preparer’s office.

For example, when a client or potential client comes in or schedules a video conference, we sit down and have a free discovery session about their business idea. We want to help you own a business that will bring you the joy and freedom you deserve. From the beginning, you will learn the correct steps to become profitable faster.

First, you will need a business plan to document success for your business. The plan will identify you unique elements for success. Second, what business structure will give you the most benefits and protection? By analyzing your goals and understanding the tax advantages and disadvantages of each structure you will be able to know whether you should be a corporation? LLC? or Sole Proprietorship? Third, we will help with the heavy lifting of startup for your company, including tax registrations, Federal ID numbers, assistance with bank accounts and more. Fourth and most importantly, you will need to manage profits. We help to implement your accounting and payroll systems, so you can fully understand the status of your business and know when to make adjustments.

A customized success plan designed just for you will help you to take the right steps from day one and put you on the road to making a profit.

Commitment to Civility in Phoenix

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Commitment to Civility in Phoenix

Commitment to Civility

Phoenix, Arizona , June 18, 2019 – A true commitment to civility has become priority for a group of professionals and entrepreneurs taking Phoenix by storm.

Dr. Vernet Joseph, World Civility Ambassador, National Statesmen, recognizes the gravity of responsibility relating to public life and befitting a citizen. Not taken lightly a necessity to be solution influenced by shifting increased division coarsening our culture too often fueled by vitriol of politics and public discourse.

Vernet, entrepreneur productivity speaker, best-selling author and the Founder/CEO of Live To Produce Enterprises, LLC energized the city as a world wind this year. The 3rd Annual Productive Business Summit positioned in Phoenix, at the Salvation Army Joan and Ray Kroc Center was a game changer. Attendees were startled with awe when City of Phoenix Mayor, Kate Gallego, issued a proclamation deeming June 8th as Phoenix Day of Civility, presented by the Mayor’s Director of Community Relations.
This day filled event encompassed speakers ranging from the My Financial Home CEO from California – Dr. Cozette M. White – who stressed the five biggest mistakes business owners make, and Arizona Financial Planner Ashley Folkes, who provided practical tips about being mentally, physically and financial fit, to World’s Best Connectors’ founder Denise Meridith, Crown Life Enterprises Founder Marquez Hughley, whose talk focused on increased levels of productivity, Mindset Changer CEO Jamal Cummins, whose message was “Don’t quit!” and PITCH Investors Live representatives who introduced a new innovative way for business owners and entrepreneurs to gain exposure and obtain funding.
The Productive Business Summit & Golden Rule Global awards is a collaboration with Dr. Clyde Rivers, the Honorary UN Ambassador at Large of the Republic of Burundi. Rivers has earned innumerable awards, including, in 2017, the United States Presidential Life Achievement Award for over 4,000 hours of serving the nation and humanity. He is also the Founder and President of iChange Nations (ICN), which improves the quality of life throughout the world by emphasizing honor, trust, dignity, and civil discourse. Cities and states are encouraged to join the cause. For example, communities throughout Indiana celebrated their fourth Annual World Civility Day in April, 2019.
Award recipients this year from the Productive Business Summit were presented by Dr. Vermet Joseph and Dr. Wil Moreland of Wil Moreland International. The recipients were:
IChange Nations World Civility Award (Danielle Williams),( Dr. Aikyna Finch), (Tasha “TC” Cooper),( Houssam Makki), (Bennie Randall), and (Dr. Stacie N.C. Grant)
IChange Nations Challenged Champions and Hero’s ( Anthony Ameen)
IChange Nations Women Add Value ( Dr. Cozette M. White), (PeShon ALLEN), ( Dr. Robin Hollis), (Roslyn Williams), ( Diana Gregory), (Beverly VanTull), (Nisha Witt), (Nakisha Graves King), (Dionne L. Archibald), (Pollyana Neely), (Chelsea Mandello), (Tammy Phipps), (Suzie Mills), (Johnnie Lloyd)
IChange Nations Community Ambassador (Harry Garewal), (Abraham James), (Anthony Ameen), (Sheriff Mark Lamb), (Ghazi Muhammad), (Derrick Smith), (Diana Gregory), (Denice Williams), (Dionne L. Archibald), (Pollyana Neely), ( Johnnie Lloyd), (David Winkler)
IChange Women of Global Solutions (Denise Meridith), (Tammy Phipps), (Marchelle Franklin)
Productive Business Global Agent of Change (Clarence McAllister)
Productive Business Agent of Change (Tara Laurie), (Larry Ross), (Christie Ellis)
Productive Business Community Game Changer Award (Harry Garewal), (Cozette M. White),(Sheriff Mark Lamb), (Sheriff Joseph Alvarado), (Ron Williams), (Dr. Aikyna Finch), ( Ron Williams) (Dr. Stacie N.C. Grant), (Beverly VanTull), (Dionne L. Archibald), (Johnnie Lloyd), (Denice Williams), (Pollyanna Neely), ( Houssam Makki), (Marchelle Franklin)
Productive Business Warrior Hero’s Award (Anthony Ameen), ( Tammy Phipps)
Productive Business Sustainable Developement Award (Chelsea Mandello)
Productive Business Award (Nakisha Graves King)
Productive Business Innovators Award ( Nisha Witt)
Productive Business Media ICON Award (Daniel Williams), (Roslyn Williams), (Derrick Smith), (PeShon Allen), (Javier Soto)
Productive Business Economic Developement Award (Diana Gregory)
Productive Business Entrepreneures (Abraham James), (Ghazi Muhammad), (Tamala Daniels), (Pamela Slim), (Robin Reed), (Suzie Mills)
Productive Business Philanthropy Award (Diana Gregory – Black Philanthropy Initiative)
Productive Business Volunteer Service Award (Robin Hollis)
Productive Business Veterans Award (Quincy Milam), (David Winkler)
Productive Business City of the Year – City of Phoenix

Another highlight of the evening was an attendee making an impromptu decision from the audience to enlist in a real live pitch contest for $10,000.00. Three minutes later Darryl Gooden of www.keepteachersteaching.org pitched an initiative to support teachers around the world inside and outside the classroom. The vote was unequivocally unanimous to award Gooden the grand prize.

When Joseph was asked what were the aha’s or moments that took his breath away? Joseph proclaimed, “Experiencing the power of relationships and collaboration with partners flying in from around the world.” Topped off by “Mayor Gallego’s proclaiming June 8th Phoenix Day of Civility.”

Civility lives on.

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Organizational Complexity is a Rapidly Spreading Virus that Needs to be Eradicated

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Organizational Complexity is a Rapidly Spreading Virus that Needs to be Eradicated

This blog is a guest post provided by Jesse Newton is the author of Simplify Work; Crushing Complexity to Liberate Innovation, Productivity and Engagement. It is the companion to the Voice America Interview with Jesse Newton focusing on his book.

The Situation: An epidemic is affecting businesses large and small. This epidemic is debilitating complexity. The disease restricts innovation, limits productivity, disengages the workforce, and eventually leads to organizational failure. Debilitating complexity takes the form of unnecessary and complicated structures, processes, systems, rules, metrics, checks and balances, and so on. Businesses traditionally add more and more of these things as they grow. There seems to be an acceptance that as a business grows, complexity and complicatedness are natural by-products. And while complexity certainly does increase as businesses mature, it does not mean that it needs to stifle innovation and entrepreneurship. The same story plays out over and over again once a company gets to a certain size: the entrepreneurial leaders decide that their juvenile business is becoming an adolescent and want to be taken seriously, so they bring in an experienced “big company” professional. The big company person then sets about installing all of the “discipline” that a serious organization requires—defined roles and responsibilities, performance metrics, committees, strict common processes, and so on, and so on. Then, all of a sudden, people begin adhering to their newfound role expectations, they start to get lost in all the processes and paperwork, they become scared to step outside of their defined role, and spontaneous rich innovation becomes a distant memory.

The Data: In a recent study 74% of respondents rated their organization as complex. In this digital age, when technology is fueling rapid changes in consumer preferences and reshaping industries, it is critical that companies innovate well and fast. Companies that are bogged down in slow decision making, risk intolerance, and siloed protectionism are destined to fail.

The Cause: The current complexity crisis is largely due to many organizations holding on to outdated and obsolete methods of organizing how work gets done. These 20th-century approaches to organizational structure and management are strangling our productive and innovative potential. They are limiting the thinking power of our people and not effectively using the resources at organizations’ disposal.

The Imperative: From an individual perspective, how we protect and allocate our time and energy is becoming increasingly paramount. The most important resource people have is their time, and we are spending far too much of it on the wrong things. We are pulled in so many directions and have to spend so much time and energy navigating through a labyrinth of processes and structures that we have lost touch with what really matters. We simply do not have the time and energy to do our best work on the most important activities.

As we are working longer and longer on increasingly low-value work, we often don’t even realize it. We have become accustomed to the four approvals we require to do anything and accustomed to going through a leader to talk to someone in a different function. We’re accustomed to navigating through three separate systems to find the information we need, and we’re accustomed to dedicating a quarter of the year to complete the budgeting process. Let’s not forget about that report one of your leaders within the matrix needs; that clearly should take precedence over everything else.

Deep down we know something is not quite right. We are not spending quality time doing the work we were hired to do. We find that it is getting harder to stay on top of everything and enjoy a good balance or even a balance at all. This results in us simply checking out. Engagement scores across companies over the past 30 years have consistently decreased. According to Gallup, only 28% of the US workforce is engaged at work, the rest are either actively disengaged or merely not engaged.

The implication: for business is that things move too slow, people think and act in silos, it’s hard to get anything done, decision making is poor, innovation is missing, risk-taking is low, and it all leads to increasing costs and being left behind by more nimble competitors. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Companies that are mired in debilitating complexity can break free of its hold. With strong leadership support and a clear approach for attacking complexity companies can re-energize their people by bringing back the laser focus, reducing the clutter and releasing the reins on innovation. The epidemic of complexity is spreading throughout the world of business and if it is not reined in, those that have managed to keep it at bay will leap ahead and those that don’t will fall by the wayside.

The Opportunity: What if we could take a fresh look at our businesses, reconsider what is really important, and start to focus our time and energy on those things that matter. Imagine the positive effect it would have on your people if you told them they now have permission to do more of the work they were hired for. Imagine their sense of liberation if you removed a big chunk of the activities that soak up their time: low-value training, compliance, meetings that should be emails, expense processing, report building, budget setting, clunky performance management, and so on.
The time is right to simplify work

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

Jesse Newton is the author of Simplify Work; Crushing Complexity to Liberate Innovation, Productivity and Engagement. He is the founder and CEO of Simplify Work; a global management consulting firm that helps organizations throw off the shackles of debilitating complexity and reignite top performance.

jnewton@simplifywork.com

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More Women on Boards: An International Perspective

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More Women on Boards: An International Perspective

ILA-Women-on-Boards.jpg

This blog is provided by Lynne E. Devnew and Marlene Janzen Le Ber as a companion to their interview for Voice America conducted live at the International Leadership Association Conference. Their interview focuses on:  More Women on Boards, An International Perspective on Taking Action; it aired March 19, 2019.

Let’s begin with an assumption that in an ideal world gender equity, racial equity, religious equity, and cultural diversity would not be issues meriting attention.  The best candidates for positions in governments, leadership in workplaces, starring roles in film, etc. would always be chosen and these best candidates would be perfectly representative of the population.  As we all know, however, we don’t live in an ideal world.  We recently edited a book titled More Women on Boards: An International Perspective. In it, 42 authors, women and men from all over our globe, shared their research and experience related to an area where the world is far from the ideal – gender equity on Boards of Directors.  In 2017, women held only 15 percent of board seats globally.[i] There are many, many reasons for this lack of equity.  In our book, and in the work of other researchers, the challenges of reaching gender equity on boards have been explored and many suggestions for how to come closer to achieving the ideal have been offered.

One major conclusion we’ve reached, and which we believe is evident in all the work that’s been done, is that there are many ways to make some progress, or to move the needle, towards gender equity on boards of directors, but the influence of any one solution will be far from enough to reach the ideal and a “one size fits all” strategy will fail. In this article, we’ve summarized the challenges to achieving gender equity on boards and suggestions to address each of the challenges into four broad categories:  boards themselves, women themselves, culture, and laws. One more challenge relates to the argument whether this idea of gender equity on Boards of Directors is even worth pursuing.

Challenges – Boards Themselves

Boards and their current members provide challenges for increasing gender equity on boards.   First, in countries and companies without term limits for their Directors, the turnover is very limited and there may be very few board openings.  Demonstrating how important this challenge is, women were named to take 137 of the 358 vacant seats on Fortune 500 companies’ independent boards in 2017.  Thus, over 38 percent of the vacant seats went to women, a huge increase over the 28 percent in 2016.  But there were 4,747 seats on the boards of those companies.[ii]  So, even if all new board members were women, progress would remain very slow and totally excluding men as potential new board members would be unacceptable to most everyone.

Another barrier is the oft-stated requirement for board members to demonstrate an understanding of the “big picture”.  This competence is often viewed as best gained by serving as a company CEO.  However, as there are very few women who are hired as CEOs (e.g. 4.8% of CEOs of S&P 500 companies are women[iii]), few women have a resume indicating they have the CEO experience considered a prerequisite for board membership

Yet another challenge is that, in general, individuals are most comfortable working with others who share their values and their interests, people whom they both like and trust.  Thus boards have most often looked for new members among the people they know.  Sometimes they even seek people who look and act as they do.  They believe they are doing this in the interests of smooth board functioning.

Means for addressing these challenges include: board term limits; increasing the size of boards; recognizing that in today’s fast-changing, high technology, global economy CEOs aren’t the best source for the gaps in skillsets on boards; and adding women who are known and admired rather than merely “a woman” to meet a quota.  Executive recruiting firms are often used to help identify women not already known to board members and who would be a good board “fit”.

In addition to boards posing challenges to adding women members, boards can also limit women board members’ effective participation.  Some boards are run by chairs who listen only to a few most trusted members.  Adding women to a board if they are not going to have a voice on the board is meaningless, and board chairs are key to ensuring the voices of all board members are heard.  In addition, research has demonstrated that adding a “token” woman to a board means little except for an improved statistic.  Women’s voices seem to become an influence when there are at least three women on a single board.

Challenges – Women Themselves

Some evidence indicates that women themselves contribute to the equity issue because there are not enough women who aspire to board membership or who are prepared to serve on boards. As noted above, few women have served as CEOs and given that this is considered essential background experience, woman do not stand up to be included as independent directors.  “Golden skirts” in countries such as Norway highlight another problem.  Although women hold more than 40% of the board seats in Norway, many of the seats are held by a few women, the “golden skirts,” who are professional board members and participate on a large number of boards. The large percentage of undergraduate and professional degrees being earned by women, and the growing number of women in C-suite positions (even if not CEO) would suggest a larger number of qualified women for directorships.  Arguments are also made for the value of feminine relational leadership, which is more likely to be seen in women’s skill sets and backgrounds, as contributing knowledge, values, and decision-making approaches that would enrich boards; perhaps in ways that are more valuable than prior CEO experience. Today, many leading universities and professional women’s group offer programs to help women develop big picture and networking skills among others; efforts to help women who do not have CEO backgrounds prepare for board membership.

Some suggest that women don’t want to serve on boards; the cost-benefit analysis doesn’t come out favorably for women.  This appears to conflict with evidence that women are more prepared for board meetings than the men serving on the same boards.  However, women often have major responsibilities outside of work, and home and family roles can conflict with career ambitions.

Challenges – Cultures and Laws

This challenge is closely linked to cultural values, stronger in some countries and within some religious communities than in others, that women’s primary role is as a caregiver at home.  While our shrinking globe and global media have reduced this challenge to an extent, such beliefs still have a major influence.  Many would question the assumption of the ideal world we posed at the beginning of this statement. Even in Western countries where gender equity is espoused, most of the childcare, eldercare, and home care is done by women whether they work outside of the home or not. In some countries, gender equity is increasingly codified in the law; in other countries, the laws restrict women’s participation outside the home. Countries with strong cultural support for increasing the number of women on boards have used the legal system to require reporting of women’s representation on corporate boards or to enact quota systems.  In countries where the culture is consistent with quotas and where penalties for noncompliance are included in the laws, quotas have been quite effective.  Recently France joined Norway in the elite group of countries where the percentage of women on boards exceeds 40 percent.[iv]

Challenges – The Business Case

As a final discussion point, it is worth noting that once one gets beyond the arguments that it is unfair to discriminate against women and that it is foolish to dismiss the talent of half the world’s population, the arguments for adding more women to boards become controversial also.  Women board members have been found to add new perspectives that improve decision making, encourage innovation, serve as role models for women employees, change the atmosphere at board meetings, and encourage corporate responsibility.  Yet, when researching human behavior it is almost impossible to reasonably assume that the number of women on a boards is the only variable and that “all other factors are equal”.  Perhaps that is why the results of studies measuring the benefits of adding women to boards often seem inconsistent.  Company size, board make-up, chair behavior, industry, the style and behavior of the individual women involved, and all the other topics discussed earlier might also be “not equal” leading to conflicting evidence among studies.

We believe adding women to boards is valuable and that there are many, many things boards, women, and society can do to increase the number of women on boards.  We want to make sure we’re all remembering though, that complex issues seldom have simple solutions – and board equity is a complex issue.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Authors

Lynne E. Devnew is on the associate faculty for the doctoral program, is a distinguished research fellow, and chairs the Women and Leadership Research Group at the University of Phoenix in the United States. A former senior middle manager at IBM, she has a DBA in strategy from the Questrom School, Boston University, and is a graduate of Columbia University’s Master Degree Program for Executives in New York City and Simmons University in Boston, Massachusetts, all in the United States. Dr. Devnew’s research work and publications are focused on women’s leadership aspirations and leader identity development. She serves on the boards of several not-for-profit organizations.

Marlene Janzen Le Ber is Associate Professor and Chair, School of Leadership & Social Change at Canada’s only women’s university, Brescia University College and Adjunct Research Professor at the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership at Ivey School of Business, Western University. Her teaching is all leadership-related. A multiple research-grant holder in the complex processes of leadership, her current research is in leader character, leader identity development in women, and impact of art-based and narrative research on policy and social change. Prior to her doctoral studies, Marlene was a health care executive within academic health sciences centers, known as a strategic leader who spearheaded numerous health system innovations. Marlene has a PhD in Strategy from Ivey Business School, MScN (Admin) and BScN from Western University.

[i] This statistic is from Deloitte’s “Women in the boardroom: A global perspective – 5th edition” published in 2017 and based on data gathered from over 60 countries.  The relevant statistic in the 4thedition, published in 2015, was 12 percent and gathered from more than 40 countries.  The report is available at https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/risk/articles/women-in-the-boardroom5th-edition.html.

[ii] The number of women filling vacant and new board seats for Fortune 500 companies is from Heidrick & Struggles 2018 “CEO & Board Practice”.  This report is available at https://www.heidrick.com/Knowledge-Center/Publication/Board_Monitor_2018.

[iii] This information is from Catalyst Research’s “Pyramid: Women in S&P 500 Companies” on March 25, 2019.  The pyramid can be found at https://www.catalyst.org/research/women-in-sp-500-companies/.

[iv] The leading role of Norway is discussed many times in our book, More Women on Boards: An International Perspective.  After it was completed, France passed the 40 percent mark, as reported in Catalysts’ “Quick Take: Women on Corporate Boards” dated December 21, 2018.  This report can be found at: https://www.catalyst.org/research/women-on-corporate-boards/.

Authentic Leadership For Progress, Peace And Prosperity

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Authentic Leadership For Progress, Peace And Prosperity

This post is a report from the December 5, 2018 Forbes.com article Authentic Leadership for Peace and Prosperity. It is the companion to the Voice America Interview to air on January 29, 2019 with Dr. Gama Perruci, Dr. Sadhana Warty Hall, and Dr. Karen Ford, Evidence Based Practices for Leadership Development. This interview is particularly important because companies are investing large amounts of money and time to build strong leaders and some programs provide much better returns than others. Programs that teach leaders to be better leaders rather than those that teach leader about leadership provide different results. Programs that offer 1. strong frameworks (including the knowledge of how context and culture play a role in leading and following), 2. teach leaders to become more self-aware, and 3. perform better using the new frameworks and self-awareness provide the highest returns. The interview is part of our partnership with the International Leadership Association to bring you the latest and most relevant leadership information.

The following section is from Forbes. I am keenly interested in understanding how leaders progress their business agendas as well as the global agenda in times of significant geopolitical shifts. I attended the International Leadership Association’s conference, Authentic Leadership for Progress, Peace & Prosperity, in West Palm Beach, Florida, where keynote speakers, academics, award recipients and leaders across industries and the globe discussed their perspectives on the subject. This article summarizes my key takeaways.

With 39 countries represented at the conference, the focus on the volume, complexity and rate of change in the current climate continued to inform the conversations. So too did the political landscape, particularly the disillusionment with democracy and the move toward populism. The conversation was also impacted by several events happening in the background, such as a bomber delivering 14 bombs to democratic leadersand supporters, who was actually apprehended near West Palm Beach, where the conference was being held. There was also a synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh in the morning of the final day at the conference.

These events called to question what more we, as members of an international association, can do to focus on the intersection of leadership, scholarship and practice at a conference that focuses on progress, peace and prosperity.

The following themes are based on my discussions with thought leaders around the world and sessions I attended.

1. Leadership certification needs to be a strong consideration.

Many professions require certification before performing a job, like realtors, massage therapists, electricians, attorneys and certified public accountants. This is in strong contrast to the number of leaders holding key roles with no education and, in some cases, little experience.

While hiring is always complicated, certification can reduce the risk of costly hiring mistakes. Certification is important for leaders who want to stand out by demonstrating their competence. And organizations will have a greater degree of assurance that the person they are hiring is competent based on an objective standard and a rigorous certification process.

2. Leadership is the interplay between the organization’s internal environment and external ecosystem.

We train leaders in leadership concepts but don’t address the importance of helping leaders understand how they need to flex their leadership approach based on their context and their followers. The most effective leaders “sense” the needs of their followers and adapt their leadership accordingly. They help followers understand their leadership style and set clear expectations as well take into account their followers styles, so everyone can focus their energy on accomplishing goals.

3. Leaders need new tools to solve highly complex problems.

Many of the problems organizations face are emergent, and they may not have faced them before. Therefore, leaders must have the tools to address them. The most effective leaders balance inner knowing with strong analytics and collaboration. 

4. Leadership ethics are key. 

There are questions about leaders learning ethics versus gaining ethics as part of the process of maturing. Are ethics the guidelines people comply with? Is there a call for leaders to develop a strong inner compass that ensures they follow the spirit of ethics as the rules change? I believe it’s important for leaders to have a strong inner sense of both the impact you want to make on the world as well as the “guardrails” you use to accomplish that impact.

5. Leaders operate in an interconnected system and need to consider the broader impact they make.

Conference participants were clear about the importance of profit as the fuel for the business and that businesses are among the most powerful institutions across the planet. They are positioned to enact important changes that involve issues such as climate change, for example.

During the conference last year, there were many discussions on identifying leadership values. This year, speakers reminded us of the mandate for leaders to live their values and pay attention to how their actions impact their organizations, and by extension, the world.

6. Resilience remains a key concern.

It was acknowledged that everyone is now or will soon be impacted by some level of change to their organization, their climate, their community and their government. These changes require that we deliberately tend to the resilience (ability to absorb change and remain highly functional) of our people, our organizations, our communities and our governments. It is important to ensure these have the capacity to metabolize change without going into crisis mode.

7. Learning to harness the power of women and a diverse workforce is critical to addressing the upcoming talent gap.

Even with artificial intelligence and other forms of workforce augmentation, participants projected a huge talent shortage now through 2030 and beyond. The size of this change is expected to grow from 2020 to 2030.

Companies need to leverage the best talent to thrive. It will be important for companies to find ways to identify the right people and create a work environment that fosters attraction and retention and expands the old norms that caused talented people who wanted to work but not within restricted bounds to leave. 

As leaders in this era of turbulence, if we want to create a more prosperous and peaceful world, we need to look at new ways of leading and of identifying and developing leaders of the future. This is a call to action to revisit what you are doing now and how you can evolve your own approaches that enhance your ability to lead from a stance of authenticity.

Are you learning from thought leaders, academics and practitioners? Each holds a piece of the complex solution we all need to thrive in the short and long term.

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Author: Maureen Metcalf, CEO of the Innovative Leadership Institute, a renowned executive advisor, author, speaker, coach and consultant.

The New Battleground for Business: The Customer Experience

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The New Battleground for Business: The Customer Experience

This post is written by guest blogger, Nick Glimsdahl and is the companion to an interview on the Voice America show, Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations focusing on Conscious Capitalism with Mark Kovacevich focusing on Conscious Capitalism as a business accelerator.

The great entrepreneur, Vanilla Ice, once said, “Stop, collaborate, and listen”. In today’s business environment, that sage advice can elaborate to: stop and evaluate your current state, collaborate with experts, and listen to your customers.

Business leaders who champion customer-centric business models have stopped, collaborated and listened. And, in today’s digital age, being customer-centric requires a business model to effectively take advantage of current technologies to meet customer expectations.

Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Hence, a company’s business model should first and foremost orbit around the customer, specifically their customer experience (CX), addressing:

  • The customer needs and wants
  • The current state of the customer experience
  • How the customer’s journey can improve

What is Customer Experience and why does it matter?

The customer experience is the new battleground for brand loyalty and a true differentiating factor for companies. It can be defined as the customer’s perception of an organization – often gained through contact center interactions – and how seamless or frustrating that interaction is. Shep Hyken, a customer service expert, author, and speaker said it this way, “A brand is defined by the customer’s experience. The experience is delivered by the employees.”

Beyond perception, CX is about delivering an expected outcome, and while the customer experience looks different for each company, common themes are:

  • Response time
  • Overall customer satisfaction
  • Ability to obtain sought out information effortlessly

A customer experience-centric model considers more than just key customer-company touchpoints; instead, the model considers the entire Omni-channel journey from the customer’s perspective.

There are three ways to measure and improve your customer’s experience:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS)
    • NPS® measures customer experience and predicts business growth. (i.e. 0-10 scale on how likely customers would recommend a business to a friend).
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
    • CSAT measures how products and services meet or surpass customer expectations. A CSAT score is the sum of respondents answering between “Satisfied” and “Very Satisfied”.
  • Customer Effort Score (CES)
    • CES, measures customer service satisfaction with one single questions. (i.e. The company made it easy to handle an issue).

Mature CX organizations monitor and understand the voice of the customer through these metrics.

Why should business leaders get behind the CX movement?

Forrester research found 71% of business and technology decision makers say that improving Customer Experience is a high priority in the next 12 months. But why? Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors, explained it well: “It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.”

Brand loyalty is not what it was 20-30 years ago. A customer’s experience positively correlates to brand loyalty, and it is much more important because of the ease of switching service providers or ordering a product from Amazon. According to the Temkin Group, 86% of those who received excellent Customer Experience were likely to repurchase from that company, compared to only 13% of those who had a very poor Customer Experience.

The trend of the increasing purchasing ease will continue as will customer-first business models delivering effortless experiences. The remaining question is what businesses will stop and evaluate their current states, collaborate with experts, and listen to their customers?

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills and system to create a regenerative, inclusive and thriving organization that will have a positive impact in the world.

About the Author

Nick Glimsdahl is the Client Enablement Director for VDS. VDS creates effortless interactions. It helps improve the way enterprising businesses deliver customer experiences. With a 30-year history of delivering results, its success in creating effortless interactions is unmatched. As a client enablement lead, Nick brings his clients the right communications solution: contact centers through (Genesys / Five9), business collaboration (Microsoft Skype) for Business, or enterprise telephony solutions so you can deliver the best customer experience.

Tips for Starting a New Business

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Tips for Starting a New Business

If you’re accustomed to a corporate lifestyle, you probably aren’t used to worrying about a steady income. But if you’ve made the decision to launch your own business venture, you understand what it is to feel uncertain and vulnerable. Suddenly, you’re not in control of circumstances. There may not be a biweekly paycheck to rely on anymore.

While you’re striving to realize your dream and trying to make clients buy into it as well, you may need to find alternative ways to keep the cash flowing. That can be a humbling prospect because it may be necessary to bag groceries or sell magazine subscriptions for a while until things settle out and your bold venture finally becomes a going concern.

Do you want this?

If you have income to fill in while you’re getting a business off the ground, you’ll find out just how badly you want to make your vision work. There are many prospective entrepreneurs who have lost the faith as they waited for orders and revenue to come pouring in, sure that their business plan was a can’t-miss proposition. But it’s to be expected that a real go-getter may have to suck it up and make some dollars the hard way in the meantime while you’re in build-it mode.  There’s absolutely no shame in doing what you have to do to support your family and your new business through the rough spots. After all, you still have bills to pay and mouths to feed. Then there’s the investment you’ve made, which has to be fed to keep it all going. This is where a lot of business owners go wrong, lose patience or give up, believing they were wrong-headed or foolishly overenthusiastic to begin with. This is where your determination and willingness to show some grit will pay off.

Long-term profitability

As a new business owner, you came to it with big ideas and big hopes for success. But having a big vision isn’t enough. You have to find your niche market, find the best ways to reach that market, and keep your customers engaged in a new business environment in which the traditional brick-and-mortar business model is fading away.

To find your niche market, carefully consider business ideas that are growing in popularity and that offer long-term profitability. Don’t fret, you won’t necessarily have to do your own in-depth analysis from scratch. Start where work has been done for you: Oberlo offers 30 different business ideas, each complete with a profitability analysis. Carefully consider each to determine whether one (or more) resonates with you, or generates other fruitful options.

Establishing a business identity is hard work and it takes dedication and some help. You need the help of a marketing consultant or advertising expert who can help brand your venture. New business owners sometimes overlook the details that go into it all. You need a logo, a color scheme, a name and a mission statement that will resonate with employees as well as your customers. Your long-term profitability will be rooted in all of this hard work, the meat and potatoes of setting up a business.

Get your team invested

If you’ve brought employees into your new venture, part of your challenge is to keep them believing and invested in what you’re trying to accomplish. Take the time and effort to explain your vision to them. Be honest and open with them and answer their questions patiently. Make sure they know that they will share in the rewards of their faith and patience. Mission statements are fine and high-minded expressions of your intentions, but only if your employees see that you’re living it. If it’s clear you don’t believe it yourself, the people you need to rely on probably aren’t going to buy into it. Maintain your enthusiasm around your employees. Talk to them the same way you would an investor or a potential client so that your enthusiasm is evident every time.

Starting a new business is likely to be the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced. Bear in mind also that it’s important to stay true to your original vision. Being successful will take hard work and the willingness to roll up your sleeves and do what it takes to make ends meet while you’re laying the groundwork for a profitable future.

Image via Pixabay.com

G.I.V.E. to Get

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G.I.V.E. to Get

Emotional skills are more important than ever for 21st century business. Good leadership can be quickly undermined by lack of emotional regulation. Without the skill to manage your own emotion, leaders can act impulsively. Harsh works can burn long built bridges of connection in seconds, leaving damaged working relationships in ashes. And what is ultimately damaged is trust.

So, what can you do?

First, leaders need to be self-aware of the things that cause them to be dysregulated. The body is the first clue. By scanning for sensations that signal distress, you can start to reverse the process. Sensations like a tight throat, a pounding heart, judgmental thoughts, sweaty palms, and a knot in the stomach are signals that shouldn’t be ignored. Our body gives us clues to our state of mind constantly. Understanding how your body speaks to you is worth investigating with curiosity.

Once you know what is happening, giving yourself permission to step away, take a breath, and sooth yourself. Use your five senses: focus on something beautiful, listen to music, smell something calming, put an ice cube in your mouth. By focusing on these sensations, the brain has to shift. As we calm down, you can gain perspective and choice how to respond to a situation, rather than reacting impulsively that could negatively impact important relationships.

For your teams to feel respected and valued, they need to feel heard. Listening to those around you is an important skill many leaders struggle with; however, it is critical for everyone’s success. When teams feel heard, they will not only give you their best, they will give you their loyalty.

An easy way to remember this skill is G.I.V.E. (adapted from the work of Marsha Linehan, PhD)
• (be) GENTLE: approach the conversation in a non-threatening, open, receptive and available way.
• (be) INTERESTED: John Gottman says it is more important to be interested than interesting! This
means you are attentive, curious, and focused on listening, not to just respond, but to
understand what is being said. You are allowing the time to really pay attention while
setting aside your own preconceived ideas of what might be happening.
• VALIDATE: Validation is about understanding. It is not about fixing a situation, or finding a
teaching moment. It is saying “I get it” without looking for rebuttals. The primary goal is
to have the speaker feel heard. This step MUST ALWAYS precede problem solving.
• EASY MANNER: Being approachable and creating a safe space where people can come to you with
concerns is an important skill. It allows you to be professional without being intimidating.
Safety increases trust and communication.

Remember, learning new skills is a practice, but one that is well worth it! It is not enough to work from the top down. To be truly successful, we must work from the inside out!

If you would like to listen to the show Skills of Connection follow this link to hear the replay!

https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/104077/skills-for-connection

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