The Almost “Secret Ingredient” to a Highly Profitable Business

Recently, I watched probably one of my favorite movies of all time:

Kung Fu Panda.

Now, before you write this off as a stupid animated movie, there’s a GREAT business lesson hidden inside if you’re an expert, consultant, or coach.

Here’s the TL;DR version of the movie:

1) A big fat panda, Po, is “accidentally” picked to become the chosen one

2) His master, Shifu, doesn’t want to train him because Shifu believes Po was chosen by accident

3) The great master Oogway, however, tells Shifu that “there are no accidents”

4) Shifu finally teaches Po the art of kung fu. Eventually, Po is entrusted with the legendary “Dragon Scroll” which holds the ancient secrets to save the kingdom

5) Po opens the Dragon Scroll only to find… nothing… and realizes: “There is no secret ingredient.”

The essence is simple:

Po always had everything he needed to become “the chosen one.”

He didn’t need anything fancy.

What he actually needed was the right mentor and the right training program.

Here’s my point:

Just like Po realized that there is no secret to becoming the “chosen one.”

No matter what the Fakebook guru’s preach, there is *NO* secret “hack,” “funnel,” or “tactic” that will turn your business into a profitable one.

Of course, you *can* find new tactics, hacks, and whatever. But, if your foundation isn’t solid (i.e., if your strategy is weak). It won’t matter which new hack you try to install into your business.

Whether that’s Facebook hacks… webinars… Instagram… or, insert whatever new tactic the latest Fakebook guru’s try to shove down your throat. Eventually, it’s only a matter of time before your business crumbles beneath its own weight.

The closest thing to a “hack” that can take you from frazzled entrepreneur to profitable business owner is learning how to write emails that sell.

The only difference is that email marketing isn’t a hack… it’s a powerful strategy.

In my opinion (which, of course, makes it a fact).

This was true when I worked my corporate job and sold for millions of dollars by email and online marketing.

And it’s been true in my own business.

To round this off.

Take that to heart the next time you sit down to write your latest email designed to sell.

If you want to discover how to 2x your sales and get more clients for your business, my free online training session is a great place to start.

You’ll learn how to use the old-school principle of “Infotainment” to write emails that people LOVE to read. Including: How to write stories so compelling they immediately draw customers in – even if you’re not a professional writer… and much more.

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How to Choose a Right QuickBooks Software for Your Small and Mid-Sized Business

Efforts gradually turning into fruition to handling lots of procedures and operations to working with a number of employees, managing a small or mid-sized business is both stressful and rewarding. To effectively fulfill the assigned tasks and to manage all resources, it is essential to automate the basic yet important tasks such as accounting. This will help you to focus or core activities and to think strategically and will help you to save your time and money.

To streamline your accounting and to manage your finances, QuickBooks comes with a vast number of apps, from which you can choose a suitable software to fulfill your specialized business needs. However, more choices come with more confusion and when it comes to choosing an app, the situation becomes more complex. And therefore, it becomes necessary for the business to do thorough research to select the best fit.

We have come up with a checklist that will help your business to find the right QuickBooks app.

Identify your top priorities and problem areas

Knowing your business needs, top priorities, and pain points will help you recognize your current and long-term business requirements. For instance, you need to consider the number of people who will be using it, your current employees’ needs, the size of the business, etc. Many software limits the number of users per account while others come up with multi-user access by charging extra costs. So, it is important to consider all aspects of your business before coming to a conclusion.

Understand Functional Requirements

Identifying the functional requirements that you want in your software will help you figure out whether the app will accomplish the required tasks or not. These tasks may include the creation of automatic expense entry in QuickBooks, extraction of receipt data, and more. Once you are done with the complete list of the ‘must-have’ and ‘need-to-have’ features, you will be able to find ideal software for your business.

Do Your Research and Browse The App Categories

Thorough research of the categories of the apps in the QuickBooks App Store will help you know the top priorities that need your attention. For instance, some of the prominent app categories of QuickBooks are managing human resource, run payroll that includes paying bills of your contracts and of employees on time, performing analytics to turn QuickBooks data into meaningful insights, tracking time of payroll and invoicing, sync data to avoid manual data entry, automated tax preparation features etc. Once you have considered the categories, you need to shortlist the selected software. Now, read about the software, customer review, description and check the demonstration. Meticulous research will help you to choose the best app to match your business needs.

Think App as a Business Investment

Apps will help you save your time and lend a helping hand by growing your sales by reaping your efforts in monetary terms. Moreover, by taking your apps to the cloud you can make your software mobile as well. QuickBooks Cloud hosting will help your employees to collaborate and cooperate with your team and clients on a real-time basis. Investing in apps will help you get more done in limited resources and will grant better control of your resources.

Train Your Staff

To avoid confusion and garner the utmost usability of your software it is quintessential to train your employees. It also helps to make them aware of the features and its usability. Doing this will help integrate new software into your existing system. Above all, ‘learning is not a spectator sport’ and therefore learning should be an inherent part of the business.

Starting Your Model Car Collection With Style

It is a human desire to embrace speed and drape themselves in style. When looking at this through the acts of human nature, purchasing luxurious homes, fast cars and wearing bling is what makes us feel we belong. In many homes however, affording the fancy clothes and the fast cars is more of a financial dream than it would be a reality.

If this sounds like you and you have champagne tastes on a Pepsi diet, then there is a solution. For those who like the fast cars and the nice things in life, collecting model cars is a solution that can fit into your budget. When it comes to model cars, Porsche diecast models are possibly the first in the series you should collect.

When it comes to collecting model cars, we are allowing ourselves to expand our imagination as well as hold on to a piece of our dreams. Even though we can’t in most cases afford to purchase and maintain a Porsche, purchasing Porsche model cars is the next best thing.

Creating a collection

When it comes to these and other cars, it all comes down to creating a collection. When we put together a collection of different objects such as cars, we can tailor our likes and passions into a specific set. For example, is you like a specific year of model car you can focus on those. If you prefer a specific manufacturer, size, colour and more, all of these can be addressed when working on your model car collection.

Sharing your collection

Sharing your collection is a great way to enjoy your collection. When sharing your collection, you can do a wide range of different things. First of all you can create a room that is filled with what you collect. Your Porsche diecast models can be displayed on shelves, in glass cases and even placed in scenes that depict a great moment in your life or accentuate the model.

Telling stories

Most collectors will have a reason for their collection. The majority of people will want to tell stories of their past. For men, it is all about helping their dads work on similar cars when they were younger. For women, it may be a remembrance of their brothers or boyfriends who had one of these cars or even their own favourite car. Telling stories is a great way to have a visual to add to these stories as well as a constant reminder of pleasant events.

Benefit Of Having Good And Timely Financial Report

While there are numerous benefits of having accurate and timely financial reports, we have identified few key benefits of financial statements.
1. Understanding the Financial Status of Your Business
The complete financial status of your business can be presented in a quality financial statement. The three main financial statements are the balance sheet, the income statement and the cash flow statement. The balance sheet reflects the owner’s equity after the liabilities are subtracted from the assets. The income statement which is also known as the profit and loss statement shows the profit derived from income over a defined period of time. A cash flow statement is a valuable tool for showing if there is enough cash coming in to pay for the operations of the business. A cash flow can be projected out over several months. The Income Statement shows how the restaurant and hotel perform over a period of time (i.e. a week, month or year). It takes all restaurant and hotel expenses into account, from prepaid expenses to expenses paid in the future. Overall, the Income Statement tells the operator if the business is making a profit. From there, the operator can begin making changes in policy and implementing strategies that will help the restaurant achieve its goals. Should new sales programs be implemented? Does food cost in line with menu prices? Is the restaurant hitting its budgets? Can the owner(s) make distributions to the partners? These are some of the key questions that need to be addressed. The basic formula for an Income Statement is:
Sales – Cost of Goods Sold – Expenses = Profit/Loss
The Income Statement is everyone’s favorite financial statement to review because it reveals the nature of the restaurants and hotel success. Restaurant and Hotel financial statements should be broken down into the following categories:
• Sales/room revenue
• Salaries
• Employee Benefits
• Controllable
• Occupancy
• General and Administrative
• Depreciation
• Interest
• Other Income

If sales and expenses are broken down into specific categories, the operator can easily compare and analyze his or her restaurant and hotel to industry standard percentages. Timely financial reporting will help to control the cost of goods sold like beverage cost food cost
The health of a restaurant and hotel can be analyzed from the Balance Sheet at any point in time (i.e. today, last month or tomorrow). The Balance Sheet allows operators to forecast short and long-term cash flow. As important as it is to review the Balance Sheet, few restaurants ever bother to prepare it. By checking the accuracy of the Balance Sheet, an operator can ensure the accuracy of the Income Statement. The Balance Sheet lists all the assets, liabilities and equity of the restaurant. The formula for the Balance Sheet is:
Assets = Liabilities + Equity
In the simplest terms, assets are what the business owns such as equipment, inventory or cash. Liabilities are what the business owes such as vendor bills, loans, notes, and leases. Even a gift certificate is a liability because the restaurant owes someone a meal at a future date. Equity is the ownership of the business.
It is important that assets and liabilities are properly classified on the Balance Sheet. To get a clearer picture of the business, an operator should break down the Balance Sheet into subcategories. The breakdown is explained as follows:
• Current Assets: assets with the life less than a year (i.e. cash, credit card receivables, inventory and prepaid expenses).
• Fixed Assets: assets with a life greater than a year that directly attributes to producing revenue (i.e. equipment, computers, furniture and leasehold improvements).
• Other Assets: assets with a life longer than a year that is not directly involved in the production of revenue (i.e. security deposits, trademarks and artwork).
Liabilities require a similar classification and are broken down as follows:
• Current Liabilities: debts due within one year (i.e. accounts payable, accrued expenses, short-term loans and even gift certificates).
• Long-Term Liabilities: debts due that extend beyond one year (i.e. notes payable or long-term leases).
There is so much information to be gained from the Balance Sheet. For example, a restaurant and hoteliers that have large debts may have major cash flow problems. Identifying the current debts from the long-term debts on the Balance Sheet help determine the short and long-term cash needs, as well as the business potential success. Restaurateurs and hoteliers who take on large debts upon opening could be shooting themselves in the foot. The restaurant may show large profits based on the Income Statement, but the restaurant may not have money because it is paying out the outstanding debt (which is revealed in the Balance Sheet).
Most restaurants and hotels are set up as Partnerships or Sub Chapter S corporations, they have to explain all business expenses and income to all partner.
2. Sales Pattern
Financial statements reveal how much a restaurant owner and hoteliers earns per year in sales. The sales may fluctuate, but financial planners should be able to identify a pattern over years of sales figures. For example, the restaurant owner and hoteliers may have a pattern of increased sales when a new product is released. The sales may drop after a year or so of being on the market. This is beneficial, as it shows potential and sales patterns so executives know to expect a drop in sales.
3. Financial Statements Will Help Prepare A Budget And Make Financial Decisions
Timely financial reporting will help you prepare a budget and make an easy way to take the financial decisions to grow the business.
4. Improved financial management
Timely financial reporting helps you to examine and correct any weaknesses in your financial systems. Improved financial management allows you to focus on current financial matters and develop future plans.
5. Better resource management
Due to timely frame financial report the restaurant owners and hoteliers will get accurate numbers of resources, therefore, they can use optimum use of all resources.
6. PERFORMANCE EVALUATION
Under this type of accounting practice, Business Owners may assess the performance of the Employees in the financial performance of the business.

3 Types of Loyalty Programs for Businesses

There are three levels of loyalty programs you can implement:

1) Basic

2) Intermediate

3) Advanced

Let’s look at each of them individually.

Basic

Just about as simple as it gets for both the business and the customers. A basic program is great for places that want to promote one or two main products or services. All you need is some type of record for purchases, like a small card. The point here is to drive repeat business, make the customers get used to buying from you. You just need to train the people who interact with these customers to offer upsells and additional products.

These types of programs work great for shops that sell products like coffee, donuts, burgers, and hot dogs. If you have a business that provides a simple service, like rug cleaning, lawn mowing, or pet grooming – anything where a client might use your service on a fairly regular basis – you could also set up a basic loyalty program.

The program is a simple equation: pay for X number of products/services, get the next one free. The salesperson just has to ask if the customer has a membership card. If not, they provide them with one, and mark the card to show a purchase. When the customer’s card is completely marked, the salesperson takes the card and gives the customer the donut/cleaning/whatever for free, along with a new, unmarked card.

Instead of a physical card, you could also invest in producing an app people can download onto their smartphone. This obviously is more of an upfront expense for most businesses, but depending on how fast you go through cards, it might be more cost effective over time.

Pros: Low cost, ease of setup, and immediacy are the three main pros for starting a Basic loyalty program. If you put it together yourself, you could start a basic program for about $20 (500 cards and a small ink stamp). Spend more money for overnight printing, and you could start your basic program tomorrow.

Cons: You’ll be relying almost entirely on your point-of-contact salespeople for everything – promoting the program and driving additional sales. You also get absolutely no information about the individuals in your program, so you cannot make customized offers. You have no contact info for your customers, so there’s no way to get in touch with them and either ask them questions (“What else can we offer you?”) or give them information (“We’ll be carrying red widgets starting next week.”).

Intermediate

These take a little effort and cost to set up, but aren’t that difficult. Most loyalty programs I’ve seen fall into this category. The main tools used here are –

1) A list with personal information (first name and email address, at minimum) from each customer

2) A contact mechanism, like an email autoresponder, or text message sending system (SMS)

3) A series of automated messages

4) Offers – discounts, buy X get more free, etc.

These programs take a little more planning, a little more time, and a little more money. Your costs in time and money will depend on how complex you want to make your program, and what you want to get out of it. You can have people self-register for the program, and then have the program make offers to members and dole out rewards (like discount coupons, etc.) automatically. Or you can make the system behind the program more complex, and segment your members into groups and sub-groups, providing each segment with different offers and rewards. If you reward people for their loyalty, they are more likely to reward you with detailed information, like important dates (birth date, anniversary, and so forth), physical addresses, and shopping preferences.

Intermediate loyalty programs can help you expand the purchasing decisions of the members, allowing you to suggest related products and services. If they know, like and trust you, they are much more likely to buy additional products and services from you than to go looking elsewhere.

Pros: Most intermediate programs can be highly automated. With just a few minutes each week, a single person can examine the statistics generated by the program, and make minor tweaks to improve the process. Most of the cost in labor and money comes upfront, and allows you to almost “set it and forget it.” The person managing the system only has to spend major time when the system parts change, or when adding new complexities like additional products, services, or list segments. Because of the moderate amount of personal information you can acquire, you’re able to offer higher-profit products and services at the right times to the right list members.

Cons: Someone has to understand the program, and be in charge of managing it behind the scenes. They’re in charge of training point-of-contact people on what to expect from program members, like coupons and so forth. They also need to regularly read the data the system generates, interpret it, and make decisions based on that information. Learning all this can take considerable time and effort at the beginning. While intermediate programs do not have to be super-expensive, a decent system is far from free.

Advanced

By their nature, advanced loyalty programs are much more complex, much more expensive, and require a recurring investment of time by a team of people. However, most advanced systems track a tremendous amount of information, and the data provided by these programs can help you almost micro-promote to each member. A lot of membership programs run by major corporations are advanced systems. Wegman’s – a major grocery chain on the East Coast of the US – knows what its members shop for down to the individual SKUs, and their automated system can offer coupons for items the customer has shopped for in the past. I regularly get the same type of coupons from BJ’s Wholesale Club. Advanced systems can offer promotions via printed coupons sent through the mail, via SMS messages sent to a member’s phone, or even through custom apps that members use to shop. A truly advanced system will know how often you make purchases, the quality of products and services you prefer, the brands, the individual items. It will be able to offer you incentives based on important dates like holidays and birthdays. They can tell how much time you spend shopping, and prompt you to come in when they haven’t seen you in a while. The more information your membership program tracks, the more you can do with that information – including aggregating it and selling it to third parties. But that’s a whole other discussion!

Pros: Tons of information, depending on how much info you collect and how complex you make the collection system. The more information you collect, the more granular you can make your promotions. Offer a discount not just on widgets, but on yellow left-handed widgets; or to people in a certain zip code who get their lawns cut only on Thursdays. Track your costs, schedule needed supplies down to the hour, plan for increased profits.

Cons: Expensive investment. Set-up costs in time and human resources are much higher than either of the other categories. Tracking the system, as well as interpreting and using generated data usually takes a team of people, and is an ongoing investment. The more data points you track, the more the program parts need to be tweaked.

Capturing the Boomer Dollar

You will have to have been residing in a cave the last few years to not know that the Baby Boomer Generation is one of the wealthiest, most active generations yet. I am proud to be counted among that number. Another truism about my generation is that if your business reaches me, it will also reach my parents, my children and my grandchildren. I stay abreast of all of their likes and dislikes so that I can use my buying power to provide travel, entertainment, clothing and dining for them as well as for myself.

We Boomers do not belong to a generation that adheres to the concept that we have never needed that type of (technology, transportation, entertainment, etc.) before so why should we invest in it now. We Boomers want to embrace the new while at the same time retain our appreciation for the old. I want to know the terminology of the younger generation but do I want to be greeted by a “Howdy” when I walk into the establishment staffed by that generation. The answer to that is a resounding “No!”

That’s why marketing to us is not only a challenge, it can be a rewarding teachable moment. Just like when I started watching the new animated films with my grandkids. Did I go into the theater expecting to be entertained? No, of course not. Was I expanding my horizon or merely pleasing my grandkids? I will be honest and say that I was merely tagging along to play the “grandma dollar card” and see the smiles. Because I have an open mind, it was blown away by the creativity, the underlying humor, the exceptional message and also by the smiles.

That’s when I started paying attention to the markets and marketers who approached me. For instance I learned when I went into a store to purchase a new computer system that I was practically invisible. Salespeople walked right by me in an attempt to go visit with either a younger customer or go back to their station to visit with other salespeople. When I did leave the store with no computer in tow and was asked if I found everything I needed, my response was that “I would have spent a lot more money if someone had actually paid attention to me!”

Boomers are not invisible, we are on the cutting edge of technology, we are stylish, we are financially savvy and we have realized that we can’t take it with us, so we are more generous with our spending power. We will pay more for good service and we will remember the server. We will cultivate new social circles that will be multigenerational. We have a healthy admiration for the younger population and know that their future will be full of change and charged with energy and success, but are very thankful that we grew up with party lines, no remotes, no GPS systems and we learned patience when ordering items because “next day delivery” wasn’t even a concept much less a realization.

So here is my suggestion for businesses who want to romance the Boomers:
• Invite a Boomer to a training session to critique the verbal interchanges that may take place within your organization.

• Stand back and actually “look” at that market. Watch the purpose in their step, the pride in the way they carry themselves and what their eyes settle on when they enter your establishment and the expression on their faces.

• Be visible and attentive but not overwhelming.

• Anticipate some of the questions they might have and have the answers.

• Be prompt.

• Be neat.

• Smile.

• No “Howdys”.

• Don’t stand in the corner on the phone where we can see you.

• Don’t gossip about people around other salespeople because I could be that person’s mother/cousin/friend or…

• Realize that my initial visit may just be a walk through or I may have a distinct purpose, treat me the same either way.

• I would not expect you to be tolerant and appreciative of my generation if I cannot extend you the same courtesy. I am not above learning how to be a courteous consumer.

Effective Internal Control Systems and Optimal Processes and Procedures

How do firms choose their strategic control systems? What is the nature and function of strategic control systems? What are the critical elements of strategic control systems? What is the nature and function of internal control systems as critical element of strategic control systems? These strategic policy questions relate to the role of optimal organizational internal control systems, processes and procedures designed to create and sustain operational performance excellence that maximizes the return on investment and shareholders’ wealth while minimizing risks exposure and the cost of operations, simultaneously.

Clearly, effective internal control system is correlated with optimal operational performance excellence and critical to sound organizational systems and strategies designed to maximize the wealth producing capacity of the enterprise. In these series on organizational performance excellence, we will focus on the pertinent strategic control system questions and offer some operational guidance. The overriding purpose of this review is to highlight some conceptual framework, quality management theory and practice, strategic relationships, and industry best practices. For specific financial management strategies please consult a competent professional.

Internal controls as integral part of the strategic control systems is interrelated series of activities imposed on the standard operating procedures of an organization, designed to safeguard assets, minimize errors, and ensure that operations are conducted pursuant to standards. While strategic control systems establish standards and methods for measuring performance, determine whether actual performance matches the standard-expected performance, and execute corrective action, internal controls are designed to mitigate the level and types of risks to which an organization is exposed.

Further, while control systems ensure operational effectiveness, control activities frequently slow down the routine process flow of business operations, which may reduce its overall efficiency. Consequently, the design of internal control systems requires management to balance risk mitigation with operational efficiency. This process can sometimes result in management accepting a certain amount of risk in order to create a strategic profile that allows an organization to operate more efficiently and effectively, even if it suffers occasional losses because controls have been deliberately reduced.

Additionally, all organizational strategies subject to constrained optimization have costs and benefits. The critical question is: Do the benefits justify the costs? In practice, executive leadership applies the net present value approach to weigh the costs and benefits of structures, systems and strategies. The optimal option maximizes the net benefit by equating marginal costs and benefits.

Some Operational Guidance

In general, no organization is immune to misappropriation, embezzlement or corruption-whether it’s inadvertent or deliberate. Many organizations don’t assess misappropriation or corruption threats until they have already occurred. Effective internal control systems should be designed to mitigate the level and nature of risk which organizations experience. In practice, as integral part of internal controls, organizations leverage technology-enabled solutions to scan across the entire spectrum of operational risks, promptly.

The ability to identify potential high-risk internal and external transactions quickly before they adversely impact organizations is critical to optimal internal control systems designed to create and sustain operational performance excellence derivative of business intelligence, risks mitigation, data analytics and evidence-based knowledge driven effective organizational systems, processes and procedures.

Moreover, internal controls should provide the mechanisms, rules, and procedures implemented by organizations to ensure the integrity of financial and accounting information, facilitate accountability, and mitigate fraud and the entire spectrum of operational risks. Besides complying with laws and regulations, and preventing employees from misappropriating assets or committing fraud, internal controls should facilitate operational efficiency and effectiveness by improving the accuracy and timeliness of financial reporting. Effective internal control objectives should include regulatory compliance, accuracy, validity, physical safeguards, and error mitigation. Control procedures should include separation of duties, access controls, random physical audits, standardized documentation, trial balances, periodic reconciliations, and approval authority.

Controls should always include policies and procedures put in place to ensure the continued reliability of accounting systems. Accuracy and reliability are paramount in the accounting systems. Without accurate accounting records, managers cannot make fully informed financial decisions, and financial reports may contain devastating errors. Control procedures in accounting should be broken into several categories, each designed to prevent fraud and identify damaging errors before they become problems or crisis.

Control system should fully address regulatory requirements, meet stakeholder expectations and protect organizations from potential catastrophic financial and reputation damages. When properly deployed and integrated, organization’s risk mitigation, anti-misappropriation, anti-bribery and anti-corruption technology-based solution should use digitally enabled analytics and advanced monitoring tools to help organizations scan across the compliance and operational risks spectrum, so they can more intelligently anticipate, mitigate and manage risks.

While smaller organizations with limited resources cannot always afford elaborate internal controls including segregation duties and decisions, system of internal controls tends to increase in complexity as organization increases in size. Establishing standards and methods for measuring performance; determining whether actual performance matches the standard-expected performance; and taking corrective action should always be integral to effective internal controls.

Finally, internal control is most effective when it is embedded and supported by a culture of assessment and continuous improvement. Therefore, effective internal control should consist of an integrated process for assuring organization’s objectives in operational efficiency and effectiveness, reliable financial reporting, and compliance with laws, regulations and policies are being met. Controls should include effective use of firewalls and encrypted passwords that limit internal and external access to critical business intelligence, proprietary, accounting and other financial information. Systematic measurement, analysis, and knowledge management require internal control results to be collected, analyzed and used for continuous improvement.

In sum, control systems should provide processes and procedures by which an organization’s resources are directed, monitored, and measured. Internal control system should include human elements such as board of directors exercising effective oversight and independent internal auditors conducting random periodic audits and unscheduled verification. Control systems, processes and procedures are critical in detecting and mitigating high risk activities and preventing various types of misappropriation and protecting the organization’s resources, both tangible and intangible resources.