Best Practices with HR Records to Guard against Legal Risks

Surely, you’ve heard it all — document … document … document, and paper trail … paper trail … paper trail.

Do it now because if you’re sued, you’ll have to be ready to arm your defense lawyers so you can immediately respond to legal issues in human resources.

Regulators and courts look favorably at companies that are proficient in due diligence.

It must begin before you hire. Plus, continued due diligence is vital long after an employee exits your business.

But to guard against adverse litigation, what records should you keep on a continual basis?

Obviously, you should retain all pertinent information in the event you face a lawsuit.

If you aren’t able to supply relevant documentation, you’ll pay a heavy price. In some cases, you’ll even be forced to give the job back to a nonperforming or toxic employee.

You’ll be asked to provide hard copies and stored evidence in the discovery phase of a lawsuit process. You might be surprised what records will be needed for your defense.

It can be far-reaching: business records, employee information, financial data, and plans for projects.

So keep all relevant records.

Here’s a precautionary checklist:

  1. Know and identify your employees who are the most well-informed and proficient with your information technology and record-keeping.
  2. Be fully aware of your data practices, retaining policies, and programs.
  3. Ascertain and evaluate your storage practices.
  4. Define what reports and any documents are in jeopardy of being changed, damaged or shredded. Know how you can safeguard them. Note: Be particularly aware of records that an undesirable or potentially discharged employee can access and alter.
  5. Ascertain any plans to upgrade or replace any software, IT systems, files or documents, and when it will take place.
  6. Be very cognizant of all actions are already taking place or in the works to spring clean or save IT records and hard-copies. This also means knowing what regulators require.
  7. In countless data breaches, companies point fingers at their vendors. Control whether your vendors and all third parties have data that conceivably needs to be safely saved. Don’t let them become your weakest point.
  8. Know any of your records that might necessitate require forensic retrieval or protection.
  9. Ascertain any potentially relevant It system data that can help you reclaim and classify records. You should protect and produce metadata – a set of data that gives information about your other data.
  10. Be very careful with your outdated software and hardware that contain data – they require special care.
  11. Pinpoint all your voice mails, instant messaging and text messages. Save all applications and be able to show how you take precautions to preserve such information.
  12. Assemble all current and past emails, email practices and policies.
  13. Your employees often send and receive personal emails on your computer system. Distinguish and update all policies and practices that relate to your employees’ personal email accounts with which your IT systems may interrelate.
  14. List all software you have used and are using now.
  15. Name your digital structures you use, oversee and on which you keep information.
  16. Distinguish any current and former databases that might be relevant for any possible lawsuits.
  17. Be prepared to explain how you use keyword and any additional search methods and technology to access information.
  18. Decide how you’ll provide information to your attorneys and opposing lawyers. That includes any file formats such as CDs, DVDs, external thumb drives and FTP (file transfer protocol).
  19. Find out if you can provide digital-document images as opposed to hard copies.
  20. Know what you can and need to separate to prevent disclosure of competitive secrets or privileged information. Be sure to segregate such information, such as for any understandable hardships reasons. Be prepared to explain your legal rights in doing so.
  21. Ascertain if you have any information that might be prone to governing embargoes on revelations, export controls or overseas privacy laws.

From the Coach’s Corner, relevant editor’s picks:

HR: Is it Time to Rethink Your Marijuana-Testing Policy? — For HR departments, it was once-unthinkable: Deleting Marijuana from the list of drugs in workplace drug-testing programs. But should you? And what should you do about your handbook policies?

Best Employee-Handbook Values to Avoid Legal Issues — Neither you, nor your company and nor should your employees be relying on an employee handbook with illegal or antiquated policies. Here are employee-handbook values to consider.

10 Best Practices for an Online Employee Handbook — Companies that don’t convert their employee handbooks into electronic documents are missing noteworthy opportunities in human resources. Conversely, businesses that switch to a digital format accomplish at least five HR goals.

For Best HR Performance Reviews, 10 Sample Goal Phrases — A well-written set of performance goals work to motivate employees and help them to focus better on their responsibilities. They must be written with the right phrasing so they inspire performance and don’t invite costly lawsuits.

Employer Tips: How to Deal with a Visit from ICE — A visit from ICE – the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement – is a cause for concern. Your response sets the stage for communication, either effectively defending your company or possible negotiations and a settlement with ICE.

Management – How to Improve Accountability in Your Company — If business and tepid growth have affected your outlook, take a look at your human resources and consider a couple of questions. If you don’t like your answer, here are eight solutions.

“Lawsuit: A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.”

-Ambrose Bierce


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

6 Best Practices to Capitalize on a Business Loan

Small business owners face unnecessary financial risks unless they’re careful in looking for a loan. This, as the result of high interest rates and onerous fees.

It’s possible to get the lowest-cost small business loan. If you want to apply for a business loan from a bank or credit union, plan to handle the loan the right way.

Whether it’s a business loan, a cash advance against your credit-card income, equipment lease or purchase or commercial mortgage loan, don’t have stars in your eyes.

Be pragmatic. The trick, of course, is to make certain you use the funds to grow your business. You’ll want to achieve your objectives, fine-tune as necessary and keep growing.

ID-100137115Here are six tips to capitalize on the loan:

1. Set up a separate account

You shouldn’t deposit the loan funds in your primary business account. In essence, act as if you don’t have the loan funds.

Don’t over-spend. Use the funds only when needed.

2. Establish automatic loan debits

Not only will you save time, you’ll get better terms. Moreover, you’ll avoid problems. Late or missed loan payments will hurt your credit score and your standing with lender.

Naturally, this means it will be difficult to get loans in the future.

3. Forecast and plan your budget

Many young entrepreneurs are so excited about having a lot more money they often make the mistake of treating a loan like income. It isn’t.

A good financial system is vital for your business. The most difficult part for many entrepreneurs is preparing and understanding financial projections.

Not only will a properly prepared financial statement tell you what’s transpired in your business, it will give you a snapshot regarding your future.

Forecast your income and expenses. Use best practices in preparing financial statements.

Manage your cash flow. Don’t spend any of the extra money just because you have it. Spend slowly as possible.

“The lack of money is the root of all evil.”

-Mark Twain

Install good operational controls like checks and balances to monitor your cash flow and to spend the money.

Maximize performance with effective budget planning.

Consider opportunities to cut costs.

For instance, inquire about vendor discounts, refinance other loans, use the right strategies for energy management of your facilities or put your utility expenses on an equal monthly-payment plan.

Save wherever you can.

And if you buy and sell products, manage your inventory costs.

4. Continue to monitor your financials

To alleviate uncertainty in planning and monitoring your money, you must have the right information. Don’t overlook one important tool – you must determine your break-even point.

Maintain your focus: Intensely watch your spending, minimize expenses so you can grow your revenue.

Pay as much or more attention to your finances as you do to operate and market your company.

On a regular basis, schedule time to review your cash flow – expenses and revenue – to grow profits. Never deviate.

Yes, you’re a busy person. You might even consider on passing on new business. Give it a lot of thought before walking away from new business.

5. Evaluate your pricing

In the event you learn you’re not optimizing your pricing, review your pricing strategy and avoid pricing mistakes.

Implement best practices to give you pricing power.

6. Take steps in case of trouble

If your sales are down and costs are hurting your profits, implement the right solutions.

But if you’re struggling to make your loan and other payments, don’t procrastinate or hide from your obligations.

Be transparent with your lender. Explain your situation and ask for suggestions. Be prepared to negotiate successfully.

With successful negotiations, your lender might offer to help in some way – such as restructuring or refinancing your loan – instead just commencing collections against you.

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks to maximize your money:

Marketing Checklist to Build Your Brand on a Budget — Every business needs to save time and money while increasing revenue with affordable branding techniques. Here are 29 proven branding solutions for maximum profits.

Embezzlement: Guidelines to Uncover and Prevent it — Embezzlement is a widespread nightmare. Here are proven strategies to discover embezzlement, and to prevent from occurring.

Profit Drivers – How and Why to Partner with Your Employees — If you want maximum profit, consider partnering with your employees. Here’s expert advice from leading financial consultant Roni Fischer.

Small Business Options for Year-End Cash Flow, Tax Benefits — The fourth quarter is the time for small business owners to reflect on options for year-end cash flow and tax benefits. In general, here are items to discuss with your accountant and tax advisor.

Financial Planning: Be Sure Your New Product Gets Traction — Be aware most entrepreneurs learn a very painful lesson: Lack of money and financial planning are the biggest obstacles to success. Good financial planning is important for your new product to get traction.

Hunting for Profit? How to Become a Lion, King of the Jungle — The quest for profits is challenging if you’re lost in a jungle of uncertainty. But success is possible if you emulate a lion hunting for its prey.

Partnerships — 7 Steps to Avoid Fights over Money — When a business has cash flow issues, a key issue that comes up every day is money. As a partnership, you have a shared responsibility to discuss issues on principles without arguing in an ad hominem manner. Your company is doomed if you ever attack your partner’s character or sarcastically belittle the person’s traits.

“The lack of money is the root of all evil.”

-Mark Twain


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy David Castillo Dominici at

Mindset, Best Practices in Strategic Leadership for Growth

Whatever your situation in pursuing growth, the mindset and best practices in strategic leadership means maintaining a delicate balance – preparing for details and keeping an open mind regarding business uncertainty.

When companies fail in their expansion plans, it’s because management is inflexible and relies too heavily on past formulas that aren’t applicable in the new economy.

In essence, they have a poor mindset for effective risk management.

stockimages hairSuch companies fail to stay committed in terms of their behavior and matching their overall objectives. They focus too much on opportunities without making sure they’re a good fit.

Instead, management should be asking, “Do our strategies apply for our opportunities?”

Their mindset must always be maintaining and improving their brand presence, working for sustainable growth and profits, and increasing their market share.

That means they must understand the new markets – in particular, the cultures. But managers can’t understand the new markets and the cultural gaps if they don’t even understand themselves.

They must have a strong sense of self awareness – fully understanding strengths and weaknesses, and how much flexibility is required without compromising on essentials.

It’s all in the details – the structure and controls without micromanaging and losing a company’s identity. (This is especially true presence in forming partnerships for a global presence in foreign countries.)

Never go into a marketplace unless you understand its environment.

For strategic leadership, management must create a vision – a roadmap – to remain competitive and adjust in the ever-changing technological and economic environment.

True strategic leaders convey the mission and target customers, and motivate their employees to be unified and instigate change and efficiencies.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

-George Bernard Shaw

The roadmap also includes a strategy for action – what changes are needed to achieve the objectives.

Five skills of such leaders:

  1. They understand the underlying causes of their challenges.
  2. They anticipate the moves of their competitors and their reactions.
  3. They determine how to balance the short-term pressure for profits against the long-term strategies while weighing the needs to satisfy the needs of their stakeholders from customers to employees and shareholders.
  4. They deduce what’s needed before making decisions.
  5. They continuously implore organization-wide learning and fine-tuning strategy should course corrections are necessary.

Strategic leaders employ five strategies:

  1. They analyze, make plans and execute.
  2. They adapt to quickly evolving conditions in their marketplace.
  3. They continuously foresee opportunities for revenue.
  4. They collaborate and form partnerships.
  5. When faced with quagmires and poor cash flow, they rejuvenate their businesses by reinvention.

The definitive leadership strategies mean adapting and improving a company’s position with vision, planning, flexibility and strong execution.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are more relevant articles:

Leadership Tips for Executing Strategy to Defeat Threats — Multiple solutions might work to triumph over a threat, but a global study in 20 sectors in 20 countries shows execution trumps strategy. Here’s how leaders execute strategy.

How to Grow Your EI for Leadership Success — Emotional intelligence (EI) is important for communication and leadership. A person who has EI is able to evaluate, understand, and control emotions.

Leadership: How Leaders Employ 11 Strengths to Grow Businesses — Ascension to the C-suite doesn’t automatically qualify an executive as a leader. Leaders have 11 strengths that enable them to manage their companies for greater effectiveness and elasticity despite a fast-changing marketplace.

To Become a Leader, Develop Strategic-Planning Skills in 5 Steps — A salient characteristic of leadership is strategic thinking. If you’re ambitious, the ability to be a strategic planner is critical for your success. Here are five ways to achieve your goal.

Executives Target 5 Technology Threats to Company Value — Corporate executives see new strategic risks as a result of technological changes — from big data and cloud computing to social media  — according to a 2013 global Deloitte survey. Deloitte queried more than 300 executives, risk managers and board members — 81 percent said their strategic-management focus has evolved with technology.

How to Avoid Failure in Risk Management and Strategic Planning — Incredible as it might seem, companies fail because they underestimate strategic risks – yes, strategic blunders instead of common sense – according to an authoritative study. Here are three recommendations.

 “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

-George Bernard Shaw


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of photostock at

Sales Strategy When Tempted to Bad Mouth Competitors

For each salesperson, here’s a familiar scene: Imagine you’re making a presentation and you feel pressure to make the sale. Suddenly you’re asked about your competition.

“What should I do?” you nervously ask yourself. “I’ve worked hard to get to this point and I have to make this sale,” you’re thinking.

Well, after having been in this situation as a young salesperson back when Richard Nixon was president and more recently as a business-performance consultant, I agree it’s tempting to trash your competitors.

stockimages salesBut the temporary satisfaction from bad mouthing competitors is, in a sense, giving away your power – for you personally and for your brand.

The pay-off isn’t pleasant. You must maintain your credibility.

True, in some cases the customer will buy. However, in dealing with the most-prestigious clients, it results in a loss of respect and a lost sale.

Opportunity to shine

My sense has always been that being asked to comment on a competitor is an opportunity to shine in a positive way. My mindset was that I had no competitors.

It’s never OK to dirty your hands.

So, I responded as if the prospect was a reporter asking me a question about my competition. I remembered to act as if my answer would appear in a newspaper headline. That last thing I wanted was to be accused of being defensive and petty about my competitors.

Therefore, my typical reaction: “Company X is a fine company!”  Or “It’s a big company!” Note the exclamation point. I made it clear that I was being assertive and honest in answering the question. (I was determined to use effective strategies to outsell big competitors.)

Then, I’d share any positive news articles about my company and segue into my value proposition. Next, I’d inquire about the concerns of my prospect to which I’d respond with specific features/benefit statements.

… the temporary satisfaction from bad mouthing competitors is, in a sense, giving away your power…

Certainly, it isn’t unethical to draw a comparison between your company and your competitors. Many companies will show a prospective client a comparison chart. Perhaps it’s OK for small ticket items, but not in pursuing high-value clients.

In case there’d be a sales presentation in which the prospect related negative comments about my firm from competitors, I was ready with value propositions.

Client concerns

My firm’s target audience has always been executives – people who could authorize or sign checks. Their salient concern is always to save time and money while increasing revenue.

With them it’s important to take the high road. Therefore, in the event a competitor trash talks you, a quick value proposition changes the conversation, and the prospect realizes that the person’s comment was unprofessional.

When people make unprofessional comments, it comes out of frustration. They’re desperate and needy. The last thing I’ve ever wanted clients to think was that I needed their money.

My mindset: “I might want their money, but I don’t need it.”

Always remember the prospect mentions negative comments by others because the person is looking for reasons to buy from you. You must validate those reasons to stand out from the crowd.

Treat sales calls like a question-and-answer dialogue with a lawyer in a courtroom. Always answer questions honestly and never say more than need-be.

Trash talking is inappropriate. You must respond with your value-proposition and then smoothly transition the dialogue to a discussion about your features and benefits.

Whenever you get a compliment from a client, ask for the names of a couple of people who would also like the value you’re providing.

Sales pipeline

Keep your brand strong with customer and client retention policies to keep your pipeline full for continuous sales.

Plus, remember that referrals are a lucrative source of revenue. Continue to focus on your existing clients. Whenever you get a compliment from a client, ask for the names of a couple of people who would also like the value you’re providing.

While you’re at it, make the most from testimonials.

Something else to remember: Prospects want to be safe and secure in their buying decisions.

Buying decisions are based on emotion. Often, it’s when prospects have a problem. You must empathize but explain you’ve “seen the movie many times” and you know the solutions.

Further, if you have a sales team, make sure your employees know bad mouthing competitors is not one of the attributes of the best salespeople.

Arm them with the right tools: Professional selling skills, awareness of the value perceptions that motivate customers to buy, and how to overcome sales objections.

And make sure your branding stays strong.

From the Coach’s Corner, more reading:

In Digital-Age, Upgrade Sales Skills to Sell to Executives — E-commerce is increasingly popular. But in B2B sales, research shows a salesperson’s skills are paramount when the buyer is an executive. So to maximize your revenue, make sure your salespeople are prepared with advanced sales training.

How to Grow Sales (through Pricing and HR Training) — Sophistication in pricing by salespeople is an excellent driver to grow earnings rather than just looking for ways to cut costs. Instead of growing their profits with sophistication in pricing, many businesspeople miss growth opportunities.

Big Ticket Sales – Prevent Buyer’s Remorse with 4 Precautions — In big-ticket sales — from consulting services to information technology — customer emotions run high. Buyer’s remorse will cost you a big sale. To prevent buyer’s remorse, you need to be a calming influence in order for the customer to understand you’re providing value.

6 Tips to Create New Sales with Successful Cold Calling — For most businesspeople in a lackluster economy, it’s important to create new opportunities with successful cold calling.

5 Critical Fundamentals to Build the Best Sales Staff — Some companies are achieving stellar sales results in complex global situations by adopting best practices. They employ strategies that separate them from the average-performing sales organizations.

“In sales, it’s not what you say; it’s how they perceive what you say.”

-Jeffrey Gitomer


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at

Best Practices for Online Ads to Dominate Your Competition

You don’t have to be reminded about the dynamic new technologies that seemingly evolve all the time, and the clutter of competition in marketing and sales.

But forecasting can be tricky, especially with the global demographic changes as young people come in the workplace.

The first dynamic you can anticipate – constant change – both positive and negative. Actually, you should note there are five trends in the future of marketing.

Based on the trends, the first thing to remember is that you’ve got three seconds or less to grab the attention of an Internet user. That’s how long you have to create a favorable first impression in order to motivate the reader.

Plus, attention spans are declining. So it’s vital to make the most of your first impression.

ID-10077665 stockimagesHere are seven best practices:

1. Messaging

Make one salient point with a call-to-action. Don’t make the mistake of trying to cram everything you can into your messaging.

2. Sizing

To make certain the right message is made available at the right time, create all the ad sizes and placements possible.

Despite the changes in your ad size, be sure to be consistent as possible in messaging.

Your target customer may wait to click until seeing your ads multiple times.

3. Varying your creative

How many times have you looked at an ad and thought, “Geez. Don’t they ever change the creative?” You should avoid ad fatigue. If you don’t, of course, you’ll suffer from a decrease in click-through rates.

Based on the trends, the first thing to remember is that you’ve got three seconds or less to grab the attention of an Internet user. That’s how long you have to create a favorable first impression in order to motivate the reader.

To vary your creative: Change your messaging including your headline call-to-action, image or ad size.

To customers, don’t deliver the same ads in your retargeting campaigns. Focus mainly on cross-selling, up-selling and offering referral discounts.

4. Leveraging resources

Identify and study all the signs available in programmatic media buying – first and third-party demographics as well as the behavior of site users.

5. Transparency

Don’t fall victim to fraud. Examine the locations of your ads. Make requests for inventory quality reports.

Screen and trust only the vendors who buy space from legitimate sources.

6. Recent visitors are a priority

Bid higher amounts and retarget users contingent on how recently they viewed your messaging. Why? People who have recently visited your site obviously have a possible stronger awareness of your products or services.

7. Tracking

Scrutinize your campaigns’ performance reports. For a return on your marketing investment, don’t neglect them. Make sure your campaigns are monitored and analyzed.

From the Coach’s Corner, for a maximized return in digital marketing, here are related articles:

8 Ways to Get Transparency from Your Retargeting Campaign — If you’re a major advertiser, you probably use behavioral remarketing or retargeting strategies. That’s to reach prospective customers based on their Internet searches, if they leave your Web site and don’t buy from you.

Insights: Making Your Google Search Ads Cost-Effective — Here’s how to get more bang for your buck in Google search advertising: Less-known brands benefit from top positions a lot more than well-known companies. That’s just one conclusion on click-through rates from a Stanford research study released in 2015.

Choosing Best Web Sites to Advertise — the ‘Medium is the Message’ — A study shows why Web sites with an authoritative image are often the most profitable.

By Watching Digital Marketing Trends, We Can Best Choose Priorities — True, marketing has evolved rapidly in the last quarter century. And yes, it’s important to be mindful of trends, especially in digital marketing — good and bad.

8 Red Flags Your Web Site is Out-of-Date (Here’s What to Do) — Just like your finances, human resources and other aspects of your business, your Web site should be continuously monitored for red flags and to be sure it’s not out-of date. Yes, it’s time-consuming and expensive, but any problems should be solved. The trick is to do right, cost-effectively.

10 Tips to Optimize Your Web Site for Higher Sales — If you haven’t optimized your Web site for sales, you might want to reconsider. There are more and more indications that online shopping will continue to grow.

11 Tips for the Best Business Mobile Web Site — If you operate a retail business, it’s increasingly important for your Web site to be easy-to-use for mobile users. The use of smartphones and tablets is skyrocketing, especially among Millennials — young adults aged 32 and under.

“Advertising is totally unnecessary. Unless you hope to make money.”

-Jef I. Richards


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at

10 Best Practices for Entrepreneurial Success

For top financial performance and the creation of jobs, there are 10 best practices for entrepreneurs.

They range from innovation to monitoring your marketplace.

The 10 best practices:

talking telephone-560318_12801. Innovate

To innovate, it means being current on your use of technology.

You must continually evaluate your processes for productivity and efficiency — how you operate your business – from management to sales.

2. Get expert advice

At the minimum, you need a mentor – someone who has successful track record. Optimally, you should get outside counsel from an advisory board.

3. Plan strategically

Strategic planning is essential for success. You need to be able to measure and track your metrics – your expenses, production, delivery and customer satisfaction.

Whatever your situation, to realize your vision, focusing on the right details is a skill conducive for strategically setting goals. There are eight best practices for setting goals.

4. Human resources

At least 50 percent of a company’s profits are contingent on employee problems. If you have challenges in one department, odds are you have HR issues in other departments. In fact, human capital is the No. 1 reason why CEOs lose sleep. Many businesses often need an objective source of information and expertise from critical thinkers. It’s true you can turn your human resources department into a profit center.

Recruit and hire the best talent. Don’t take shortcuts. Strive for a productive business culture. Create and foster a favorable work environment for your team. That means partnering with your employees and turning your human resources into a profit center.

5. Partner with your vendors

One mistake entrepreneurs make is failing to partner with their suppliers. Your vendors should be treated with great care. Treat them as you would a valued customer.

Break bread with your biggest vendors – take them to lunch. Listen to them. Without divulging proprietary information, share your objectives so they can best serve you.

6. Keep your sales pipeline full

Take good care of your customers. But diversify and continually prospect for new customers. It doesn’t matter what type of business you have.

Even if your sales are great today, there will come a time when sales will crawl to a halt unless you take precautionary measures to keep your sales pipeline full. Yep, that’s right. Never take sales for granted — when it comes to sales keep on truckin’. Never stop marketing. Take good care of your customers, but make marketing your top priority — every day — to prevent a roller coaster ride of profit and loss.

7. Manage your finances

If you fail to understand your financial statements, you won’t know your break-even point and where your true profits lie. Ultimately, you won’t properly manage your cash flow.

If your cash flow is poor, you feel poor because you can’t pay the bills nor can you use money for what you’d like to do. Your image can also suffer with vendors or with customers, if you don’t manage your cash flow. You must creatively manage your cash flow.

8. Anticipate problems

On a regular basis, perform a SWOT analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Every business faces the prospect of tsunamis – an economic downturn, loss of suppliers, increase in costs or natural disasters from fires to earthquakes.

9. Monitor your marketplace

Pay close attention to your marketplace. Anticipate your customers’ needs and wants. Find needs to fill.

10. Don’t hesitate to get assistance

If you anticipate problems, accept and acknowledge them. Part of acceptance means doing something about your problems. Many issues necessitate outside help. Financial issues mean stay in close contact with your bank and stakeholders to whom you owe money.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related articles:

Accounting / Finance – Why and How to Determine Your Break-Even Point — Uncertainty can kill hope in business. Best practices in management mean having the right information to alleviate uncertainty in business. For that you need the right tools. One important tool – know your break-even point (BEP). A BEP analysis should be an integral part of your financial planning. If it isn’t, you can count on suffering from unnecessary stress – emotionally and financially.

For Maximum Business Tax Savings, Year-Round Strategies Are Vital — Many business owners find they can plan their futures, operate their businesses more efficiently year-round, and take maximum advantage of tax savings when they file their returns. Ask your tax advisor about these 9 strategies.

Why Your Customer-Loyalty Program Might Not Be Profitable — Researchers are warning businesses that their customer-loyalty programs, which are designed to increase repeat business, may be causing more harm than good. Even though “customer prioritization” is widely used by companies, the researchers warn they’re a double-edged sword and represent the dark side of customer loyalty programs.

To Cope with Rising Costs, Review your Pricing Strategy — Increased costs weigh heavily on the bottom line. If you’re being pressured by costs, it’s probably time to review your pricing strategy.  You’re not alone. No business is immune from rising costs in fuel; rent or real estate; labor; health insurance and ObamaCare; marketing; and equipment. Lest not you forget all the taxes.

The 7 Steps to Higher Sales — Secrets for sales success include: Five value perceptions that motivate prospects to buy; seven steps to higher sales; and the three-step process for overcoming sales objections. You also need a noteworthy elevator pitch. But even before your launch into your great elevator pitch and seven steps, it’s important to understand why people will buy from you – remember it’s always an emotional decision.

If you try to fail and succeed, which have you done?


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

8 Ways to Get Transparency from Your Retargeting Campaign

If you’re a major advertiser, you probably use behavioral remarketing or retargeting strategies. That’s to reach prospective customers based on their Internet searches, if they leave your Web site and don’t buy from you.

Other firms use retargeting to purchase advertising. Basically, retargeting is accomplished by using a cookie or pixel, to show banner ads to Internet users.

But transparency is a significant problem for advertisers, according to a 2014 report by Marin Software.

“Retargeting is emerging as a central part in the marketing mix, and advertisers are hungry for the same type of control over the channel that they are used to with search and social marketing,” said Brad Flora, senior director of product management at Marin Software.

Key findings:

— 25 percent are worried about transparency

— 43 percent find attribution for the performance of retargeting a headache

— More than 33 percent aren’t even sure their ads are viewed, they fear click fraud, and are concerned about “black box” optimization

Eighty-eight percent of respondents use retargeting methods.

The most-used channels: 81 percent of them are in display, 77 percent are in search and 48 are percent are in social media.

Eighty-nine percent use Google as a retargeting channel.

But there are solutions, according to a blog on

From “8 Best Practices for Running a Retargeting Campaign” here are brief excerpts of the highlights:

1. Frequency Caps

Overexposure quickly results in decreased campaign performance, which is why it’s almost always advisable to use a frequency cap. Prospects may ignore your ads completely, a phenomenon known as banner blindness, or they may begin to have a negative association with your brand as you follow them all over the web.

2. Burn Code

Have you ever made a purchase online only to find you’re still being inundated with advertisements for that company or product? By continuing to serve ads to converted customers, companies are only serving to annoy people.

Luckily, there’s a very simple solution: use a burn pixel. This snippet of code, placed in your post-transaction page, will untag any users who have made a purchase, ensuring you stop serving them ads.

Converted customers can still be a part of your retargeting campaign, just don’t ask them to take the same action twice. Now, you have an opportunity to retarget current customers with new ads.

3. Audience Segmentation

Audience segmentation allows for you to tailor ad messages to users in different stages of the purchase funnel. The process is simple: you place different retargeting pixels on different pages of your site, and then tailor creatives based on the depth of engagement of each user.

4. Demographic, Geographic, & Contextual Targeting

Targeting gives you the opportunity to fine-tune your ad placements, ensuring greater relevancy and increasing ad performance. Advertisements can be targeted based on demographic information, like age or gender, contextual factors like subject matter of the website, or geographic data.

5. Setting View-Through Conversion Windows

A frequent complaint of the direct response crowd is that online display advertising doesn’t drive clicks at the same rate as paid search advertising, but clicks aren’t telling the whole story. Retargeted ads, even if they aren’t clicked, can provide brand lift.

The view-through conversion takes into account that some ads don’t trigger immediate buying decisions, but can nonetheless influence people to make purchases later, also known as the billboard effect. In the same way a catchy billboard grabs your attention and boosts brand awareness, an online display ad can encourage a later action. View-through conversions provide advertisers with richer data around ad performance by considering conversions that occur within a certain window after a user sees an ad.

6. Single-Provider Retargeting

Running retargeting campaigns with multiple providers has a number of serious drawbacks. If you run with multiple providers, each provider will be bidding for the same spots on the same websites, driving up media costs and decreasing the chances each has to serve ads to your users.  You may also run into difficulties effectively implementing frequency caps, as each retargeting provider will be operating independently.

7. Rotating Creatives + A/B Testing

Even if you launch your campaign with incredibly strong creatives, running with the same set of ads for months on end will result in a lower performing campaign.  According to a ReTargeter study, clickthrough rates decrease by almost 50 percent after five months of running the same set of ads. After seeing the same ads again and again, a user’s interest is no longer piqued and the ads are more likely to blend into the background. By rotating your ad creative every few months, you can easily avoid experiencing these dips in performance.

8. Optimized Creatives

The banner ads you use may do more to determine success than any other factor of your retargeting campaign, so it’s crucial to devote sufficient resources to making beautiful ads. Marketers often try to cram as much information as possible into the space allotted. This method of designing banners will only distract your audience and won’t serve the purpose of the ad: to win their attention and keep it.

These eight practices from make sense and are worth using. But I’d recommend you visit for the complete information and more great strategies.

From the Coach’s Corner, related tips:

10 Strategies to Shine and Make Ad Designing a Breeze — Designing simple banner ads without strategic planning no longer suffices. The click rates have declined significantly, especially in B2B. To shine in the clutter of Internet advertising, there are at least 10 tips to keep in mind. That’s true in your mobile or Web site strategies.

9 Tips to Evaluate Online Advertising Options — Are you at a point at which you want to advertise your company on the Internet? But you’re unsure which sites are the best for you?

“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”

-Mark Twain


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Best Practices to Capitalize on Business Intelligence

A large number of business intelligence (BI) users admit they don’t effectively use it to identify and create opportunities for sustainable growth, according to a study.

Their honesty isn’t surprising, but the high level of misused BI is.

The astonishing results were revealed by Forrester Research consultants Martha Bennett and Boris Evelson in a 2013 article.

BI is commonly used by business for renovation of raw data into salient data.

Common utilities range from analytics to business-performance management in decision making.

That might be for business process optimization, enhancing customer service, market expansion or marketing.

The Forrester consultants wrote:

“Business users’ complaints about their ability to access the data they need to support a decision when they need it from their enterprise BI applications include, for example: insufficient or inaccessible data, excessive or ‘wrong’ data, untrustworthy data, unacceptably long turnaround times for new reports or other BI capabilities, or BI tools that just are not right for the job.”

MH900422458In fact, Forrester’s study produced surprising answers from BI users, for example:

– Only 54 percent indicate they’re “successful” or “very successful” in making informed business decisions.

– Only 36 percent are “successful” or “very successful” in improving customer interaction and satisfaction.

– Only 28 percent are “successful” or “very successful” in gaining a competitive advantage.

What we found is that methodologies, tools, and processes certainly help deliver successful BI projects, but can’t make the difference between failure and success on their own,” wrote Ms. Bennett and Mr. Evelson.

They provided three solutions:

Best practice tip No. 1: Put the business into business intelligence

This may sound like a foregone conclusion, but it isn’t. Some BI projects fail at an early stage; others go right through to final delivery and signoff before someone declares they don’t meet expectations. The most commonly cited reason in all cases is a lack of involvement from the business, either at the executive or subject matter expert level — or most often both. But it’s about more than just having a business sponsor and a set of requirements — it’s about having the relationships and processes in place that ensure collaboration with business executives.

Best practice tip No. 2: Be agile and aim to deliver self-service

Even the best-planned and -supported BI deployment will not achieve the desired result if the chosen development methodology isn’t suited to delivering a BI initiative. One way to maximise the chances of BI project success, is to use agile methods where possible. Note that this doesn’t have to be “agile” in the strict sense of following a set methodology. For the majority of experts we spoke with, it’s about being “agile” and taking an iterative approach, with the emphasis on breaking all elements of a project into the smallest possible chunks, working collaboratively, and reviewing tangible deliverables frequently.

Best practice tip No. 3: Put a solid governance foundation in place

In the context of BI, there are two key aspects to governance: data governance and governance of the BI deployment itself. In order to use data to improve operational efficiency and gain competitive advantage, organisations first need to understand what data they have available from internal and external sources and the value that this data has in terms of process improvement, decision-making, development of new products and services, and so on. They also need to be clear how they define each data item and what internal and external rules apply to the capture, storage, and further processing of such data. BI governance covers rules and processes pertaining to report creation, ownership, distribution, and usage, as well as prioritisation of must-have and nice-to-have capabilities. 

In her separate blog on, without explanation, Ms. Bennett provided three additional best practices:

– Select the most appropriate tool set.

– Seek external help if needed.

– Make change management and training an integral part of any BI initiative.

She also listed six pitfalls to avoid:

– Taking an IT-led approach may seem easier.

– Choosing too rigid a process – or none at all.

– Treating governance as an afterthought – or overdoing it.

– Allowing technology selection by accident.

– Abdicating your responsibilities after you’ve brought in external partners to assist.

– Focusing on technology development and roll-out rather than change management and training.

Obviously, if BI isn’t working for you, it’s time to adapt in order to win. For starters, my sense is IT must learn to work with the business side.

From the Coach’s Corner, IT professionals have long suffered from an image problem for not understanding the business side.

Here are four recommended articles:

Two Studies Indicate Need for IT Pros to Get Businesslike – CEOs have long complained to me about information technology. They complain about high-priced consultants, and that IT projects are too expensive and fail to yield a return on investment. Indeed, two 2011 studies underscored the need for IT professionals to become more businesslike. 

Why CFOs Are Still Calling the Shots in IT Decisions – The top IT decision-maker for many companies is not the chief information officer. The chief financial officer is increasingly calling the shots for IT. 

How CIOs Can Get More Respect in the C-Suite – Despite the importance of their work, chief information officers have difficulty earning respect from senior executives. Here’s what to do about it. 

4 Recommendations to Avoid Spending Too Much on IT – To take advantage of big cost savings in information technology, a study says businesses need to change their buying habits.

“Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.”

-Gertrude Stein


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Best-Practices in Protecting Your Supply Chain from Natural Disasters

As a manufacturer, you know the importance of protecting your supply chain for your company’s future. So you might be interested in an academic study — lessons from the earthquake that resulted in a tsunamis and nuclear catastrophe in Japan.

The study’s three authors were able to provide the lessons after studying the recovery efforts of four Japanese companies – either they manufactured products or they depended on devastated companies for parts.

It was an analysis of how supply chains will survive if companies spread their distribution of information and vary the location of their assets. After all, companies won’t survive unless they strategize so their supply chains meet the expected standards of their customers.

Entitled “Supply Chain Lessons from the Catastrophic Natural Disaster in Japan,” it was authored by YoungWon Park, Waseda University; Paul Hong, University of Toledo; and James Jungbae Roh, Rowan University. The publisher is Business Horizons; vol. 56, no. 1.

It was also summarized in April 2013 by Booz & Company at (Note: The consulting firm provides a newsletter I highly recommend. The firm was the source of material in the article, How to Avoid Failure in Risk Management and Strategic Planning.)

You recall what happened after the 8.9 magnitude earthquake hit Japan. It was the catalyst for the tsunami that cost lives and damage estimated at $235 billion. As a point of reference, the damage from Hurricane Katrina totaled $81 billion.

The multiplier effect was huge – for U.S. auto plants’ inability to get parts — and for tech companies to get silicon for semiconductor chips.

Naturally, plant-location diversification is a common practice. But the authors identified a best practice in supply chains –portability, the capacity to speedily circulate records in design and operations.

Researchers’ case studies of the four companies:


Medical device manufacturer Iryou was impacted by challenges of it suppliers. Its main plant is in Japan, but it operates in the Philippines and U.S. So Iryou was able to increase production overseas.

Hampered by a government mandated three-hour power shutdown each day, Iryou hustled to construct a gas pipeline.

Also, it created a 24/7 crisis center, which led to an enduring disaster-readiness operation, and tentatively compressed its organizational structure to facilitate communication.


Formerly a world leader in construction-equipment manufacturing, Kenki fell on hard times after it failed to evolve in the marketplace. But it had launched a new It system.

It gave the company the capability to better monitor key parts of its supply chain – production, sales and distribution. Kenki also managed the crisis better than expected because it had expanded to emerging markets.

During the disaster’s aftermath, Kenki refocused and power was no longer a problem thanks to its generators for self-sufficiency.


Sangyo manufactures industrial machinery. It had a leg up in the disaster because it had already moved some manufacturing to China. It also took steps to be timely in communicating data between its home operations with foreign plants.

Sangyo was hampered for half a month because it couldn’t get component parts. Now, in real time, it supervises the inventory of its suppliers.

The company has since performed a natural-disaster risk analysis. As a result, Sangyo maintains one-month inventory of parts in the event of any future disasters. It also uses more generic parts.


Zyuden, devastated more severely than the other three companies, manufacturers generators and vehicles. Its capabilities were wracked by problems in communication, electricity and transportation.

Zyuden’s challenges were alleviated because it had the foresight to install a data tracking system – sensing devices in production. Although the company had to install new sensors, it was able to get up-to-speed more quickly.

This meant a “restoration roadmap for Zyuden’s production lines, helping the company to integrate “all sectors of its business, including those in the damaged region,” wrote the researchers.


The authors believe that businesses must take steps to upgrade their information-gathering and sharing capabilities at each manufacturing site. This also means following Kenki’s example by performing a natural-disaster risk analysis, and physical diversification of locations.

In addition, my sense is that retailers would be well-advised to research their suppliers – to see if they use such best practices to minimize delivery issues.

From the Coach’s Corner, recommended reading:

“If you’re a supplier and you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of delivery dates.”

-Bill DuBois


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

To Realize Your Business Vision, 8 Best Practices for Setting Goals

Whatever your entrepreneurial dreams, to realize your vision, focusing on the right details is a skill conducive for setting goals strategically. For which, there are eight best practices.

However, if management doesn’t ponder enough on action-oriented details, goals are inordinately difficult to achieve. That’s really true in our new economy in which ever-increasing change makes for surprises in a dynamic marketplace.

ID-100215383 stockimagesTo alleviate uncertainty in setting goals:

1. Written assessments

As Socrates said: “Know thyself.” Spend quality time writing your strengths and weaknesses. Develop objectives for your personal improvement for skills in organization, and as a leader and coach with resilience.

Strategic planning generally involves six tips.

Next, do the same for your business or venture. What are your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? Who are your competitors? What are the other external considerations?

Will a partner give you more flexibility and faster growth? If you think you need a partner, ask yourself the right key questions before you act.

2. Budget time for blue sky sessions to dream big

A blue-sky session is where you use your imagination. Just as a youngster dreams about going to Disneyland or meeting an idol, use child-like wonder to ponder your business future. So dream big.

It’s important to dream about what might seem to be unattainable. We’re in an era with greatly accelerating series of changes. What is the status quo today might not be tomorrow. You don’t have to worry about starting a business in a weak economy.

Think big so your goals won’t be obsolete before you reap profits from your efforts.

And consider how you’ll be able to continually innovate. To achieve lofty goals, certainly innovation is the key in our new economy.

3. Use visualization techniques

What do you want accomplish? Visualize in vivid detail how success will look. If you have an open-minded mentor that’s even better.

But be realistic in planning. Make sure you’re diligent to avoid failure in risk management and strategic planning.

4. Put actionable steps in writing

You’ll need to focus on dates and deadlines. Baby steps are important. Determine your key performance indicators and measurements. Decide on responsibilities – who will do what and when.

Be comprehensive – especially in marketing, sales and financials.

5. Priorities in financials for profitability

Project expenses, sales, and most importantly, cash flow. Be certain to get pragmatic forecasts.

Track sales-to-expense ratios every 30 days. Monitor your inventory levels and project sales, receivables and cash – make certain to adjust your spending accordingly. Cash is king. So it’s key to know your Here’s break-even point.

Take a sober look at your pricing to help maximize your profits. In the new economy you need to make certain you have pricing power.

Closely monitor the work and performance of your accountant or financial advisor. And, oh, yes, learn the 21 tips to guard against embezzlement.

6. Emphasize your human capital

Focus on the people who are involved. It’s important for laser-like thinking about your performance benchmarks, deadlines and responsibilities.

Encourage ideas and performance. To optimize profits, you’ll need to partner with your employees. Track results and hold everyone accountable, and make certain everyone is skilled in maximizing customer loyalty.

7. Establish a schedule for reviewing

Review every detail at regularly scheduled meetings. Make sure they’re productive meetings to achieve top performance.

8. Include an exit strategy

You should always have an exit strategy in place – no matter what. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a veteran business owner, you should always have an exit strategy. Here’s how.

From the Coach’s Corner, to be lean and not leave any money on the table, here’s recommended reading:

“People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.”

Brian Tracy


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Photo courtesy of stockimages

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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.