reating a Risk Management Plan: Deciding What You Need Before Mitigating Risk

Before performing the steps of risk management, increase your chances of success by first planning, which amounts to taking some time to decide and define what you need.

What Tools Will You Use in Managing Risk?

Tools are such things as forms, policies, procedures and software you will use to implement and perform risk management. If your company has a Project Management Office or even a Risk Management Department, you may have access to ready-made tools. If not, decide what you need and what the project needs in regards to tools. Are you new to risk management? Maybe you just need a basic procedure and a few basic forms to get you started. See Rita Mulcahy’s book, Risk Management: Tricks of the Trade for Project Managers for examples of steps, strategies and forms (RMC Publications, Inc).

Who Will be Involved?

Who can help identify bad things and good things that might occur on your project? They are the individuals you want to involve. Mostly they will help during the period when you are identifying the bad and good things that might happen (the threats and opportunities) but they may also help during the period when someone needs to take action because the bad or good thing that you earlier said might happen does in fact happen. If you’re not sure who these people are, typically they are experts on the subject of your project; project team members; end-users; customers. To come up with others, ask yourself, “Who cares about the outcome of this project?” Those people are stakeholders, and they can help identify risk.

How Can You Ensure Participation?

To get people to agree to be involved in your risk management effort, you will need to first get them to agree what you are doing is a good idea. One way to do this is gather those you want to involve and bring in some examples where bad things happened on a project (or good things) and how that affected the project. Giving real-life examples usually convinces people performing risk management is the right thing to do.

What Will Those Involved Do?

Once individuals have agreed risk management is the right thing to do, tell them the role you’d like them to play and how much time it will take. You can estimate this by determining roles and responsibilities of those participating in the risk mitigation effort. Examples of a few roles are Project Manager, Stakeholders and Team Members. What will individuals in those roles do? When will they be expected to do it? How much time will it take? You can create a simple, four-column chart with these headings and fill in the information (i.e., Role, What [Responsibility], When and Task Duration). It is fine to estimate.

How Will You Tailor Risk Management Activities to the Needs of Your Project?

First, ask yourself some questions about your project and your company: What is the priority of the project? Are there certain negative events that your company simply will not tolerate occurring? If the answer to the first question is “low,” then you may decide the time and effort you put toward risk management on this project will be limited. If you come up with several things in answer to the second question, you’ve just identified some top risks that should occupy your risk mitigation efforts once you begin that phase of risk management.

Business Parties and Mixers: How to Leave a Good Impression at Business Networking Events

Business card exchanges and other networking events send a mixed message about appropriate behavior – should you eat the food or be ready to shake hands?

Chambers of commerce frequently host business networking events, as do other business organizations. These events may offer food, beverages, a guest speaker or musical performance, raffles, and other diversions. These amenities may draw larger crowds to the events, but all of them conflict with the art of business networking by rendering one unable to converse or shake hands.

Conversation Stoppers

Certain networking activities impede conversation. Networkers cannot engage in active listening to get names right if they are unable to listen. When considering events to attend, weigh the likelihood of each of these conversation stoppers being present:

  • Guest speakers cause a room to grow quieter, so hushed tones are necessary. Speaking usually occurs when everyone is seated, limiting the number of networking contacts possible at the event.
  • Musical performers may or may not go on before a seated audience. Volume of the music may make conversation difficult.
  • Organized activities may enhance or detract from networking. They may range from “business card bingo” games to raffle ticket sales.
  • Food fills up mouths that are needed for speaking, among its other problems for networking.

Food: Networking Disrupter

Food, along with beverages, is a very common element at networking events. Mixers vary from seated luncheons to evening tavern parties; food is a popular draw to these business events. Food, however, gets in the way of networking.

  • As noted above, food in the mouth prevents conversation.
  • Additionally, breath can be affected by food at events. Caterers rarely take this into account.
  • Food in hand means one less hand for shaking, or handing out business cards.
  • Hands may be left greasy by food, which is a big handshake faux pas.
  • Adding in a beverage for the other hand makes networking virtually impossible.

Ready for the Handshake

Shaking hands is an expected part of business networking, and one should attend networking events ready for handshaking. Food and beverages make it difficult to shake hands or distribute business cards. Other hand impediments include:

  • Raffle tickets being sold.
  • Business cards just received.
  • Brochures and larger marketing materials distributed at the event.
  • Menus for food at the event.

One must be ready to keep both hands clean and free of obstructions. Business cards and raffle tickets may be quickly pocketed, but larger papers should be tucked into the jacket or purse – bring one for that purpose, if necessary. Networkers should keep in mind that two ears, one mouth, and two hands are needed for networking, and should be prepared to keep all the parts working together to make a good impression.

The Benefits of Incorporating Your Business: Should Your Company be Incorporated?

Many businesses eventually become corporations. But the timing of such an action is different for each business. Here are some key points to consider about incorporation.

Although incorporating your business is not necessary to running a successful company there are many benefits to be gained by doing so. Incorporating a business can be done at the beginning of the life of the business or later when the business begins to grow larger. Although certain types of businesses can benefit immediately and protect the owners of the business by incorporating.

The Benefits of Incorporating

So what are some of the benefits a business receives by incorporating? For one the owners and officers gain a measure of protection for their personal assets. If the company defaults on a debt or is forced to file for bankruptcy protection the owners and officers cannot be held liable for that debt. But there is one stipulation to that rule. The owners and officers cannot give personal guarantees to secure such debt or financing. If they do they can still be held responsible for those liabilities that they guaranteed.

Your Business Has its Own Identity

Another benefit of being incorporated is that the business is legally a separate entity. Which means it can, over time, build up a credit profile of its own. And just like your personal credit the business will receive a credit rating. It is still up to you to help it develop a solid credit rating by managing the business’ finances correctly though. Just as you can score a high rating you can also destroy that rating too.

Raising Capital

The ability to more easily raise capital is often a benefit of incorporation. Not only do potential investors prefer such a structure but more than likely your bank will as well. These entities want to see that you are serious about your business. Incorporating is a whole different level of commitment to the business from you and they should look more favorably on you because of it.

The Tax Game

Your taxes will be handled in an entirely different manner than if you run a sole proprietorship. Because the business is now a separate legal entity it is responsible for paying taxes on its earnings each year. This will lower your personal tax bill accordingly. And if the business loses money then such loses can be carried forward into the next year to help reduce taxes on any profits you might earn in the future.

It’s about the Long-term Future of Your Company

As you can see there are many benefits to incorporating your business. And these are just some of them. Is it absolutely necessary to do so? Of course not. It really depends on what you want the long-term future of your company to look like. If you are focused on growing the business then at some point in time it might be a wise course of action to consider, but if you intend to remain small it is not going to be absolutely necessary. It’s just a matter of what you feel is best for your business.

IT in Business: Business IT Development: The Advice Was – Make Sure it’s IBM Compatible

Early efforts to sell desktop computing into business were driven by focus on function, the most obvious targets being accounting and payroll.

Business computing had undergone a sea change in the late 1970s. At this point in time it became possible to assemble a hardware package, small enough to sit on a desk, yet capable of delivering effective processing power. The personal computer was born.

The Burden of Choice Simplified

There were many offerings in those early days, each with its own unique selling proposition, but there was little compatibility between the different solutions. A businessman making a poor selection would be faced with expensive data migration after only a short time.

In 1981 Bill Gates gained a contract from computer giant IBM to provide a version of the Microsoft MSDOS operating system for the worldwide marketing of the IBM PC. Compatibility had arrived.

The Marketing Theme – Cut Costs

Secretarial functions such as typing and scheduling soon followed on the heels of accounting in the race to computerise the office. While hardware and operating systems were increasingly compliant with the emergent so called ‘IBM Compatibility’ standards, there were still many choices for businessmen to stumble over in application selection and poor choice would often lead again to expensive data conversion and transfer in the mid-term.

The rapid evolution of both hardware and software offered many tempting cost reduction opportunities for business, especially for those in the SME sector who hadn’t hitherto been positioned to justify the substantial costs incurred by the introduction of computerisation. Now even a small business could balance the cost of a personal computer and software against the savings to be made performing a single business function, such as payroll or sales ledger.

All too often this led to the perception that computerisation equated to personnel reduction, frequently a mistaken assumption as headcount is usually more closely related to redundancy of process than it is to function performance. The idea “buy a computer and sack three people” gradually gave ground to the concept of increased trade by improvement in the speed of business process.

Market Dominance and Control

The IBM decision to back Bill Gates’ operating system for personal computing gave Microsoft an enormous marketing edge over other players and the stolid advice to small businesses entering into computerisation for the first time was “make sure it’s IBM compatible”.

The limits on the technology used by early PCs meant that machines of the day were unable to perform more than a single task at a time. This factor probably influenced to some degree the IBM decision to back the Microsoft product. It seemed at the time that there was no way it could impact on the core IBM market of multi-tasking main-frame and mini-computer operation.

The Hidden Factors

The two factors that no-one foresaw were the amazing lateral thinking that led to the birth of computer networking and the fantastic rate at which technology developed. The idea that limited processing and storage in a single machine could be overcome by linking two or two hundred machines together and allowing them to share the workload, contributed greatly to the development of TCP/IP networking that today runs the whole of the Internet. The dominance of the software market by Microsoft, and the resource hunger of that software, has pushed the hardware manufacturers to greater and greater achievements in terms of processing power and storage. These days a good home PC delivers computing power of a magnitude similar to the business mainframe machines of the early eighties.

6 Reasons To Update Your Business Plan: Your Plan For Your Company Is Your Roadmap So Keep It Updated

Your business plan is your roadmap to success. But your path is constantly changing and to keep your goals clear and fresh you need to update your plan regularly.

A business plan is not something you write and then toss in a drawer. It’s an ongoing blueprint of what you want to accomplish and how you plan to get there. But your goals for your business and the climate you operate in will change. So your plan will need to be adjusted accordingly. Here are just a few of the reasons that you may have for keeping your plan up to date.

  1. Changing Markets

The most obvious reason for updating your plan is that the market is changing. Possibly some new opportunities for you to sell your products have materialized. Maybe you’ve reached your original goals faster than you thought would be possible and new goals need to be established. Or you’ve found that your original goals did not reflect current market conditions accurately enough. Either way you need to make some changes.

  1. New Products

You’ve got a new product that will have a dramatic effect on your business. Your current plan might not take the new product into account. And the new product might have an effect on the results your business is going to be able to achieve. Again it’s time to update your plan.

  1. You Need More Money

You’re about to approach your bank or investors about borrowing money. Because they have a financial decision to make they are going to want to see an updated plan. An outdated plan on the part of the borrower is not going to help convince the people that control the purse strings to loan you money.

  1. New Management

You’ve recently overhauled your management team. Because you now have new people in charge your plan needs to reflect that. And you need to make sure that everyone on your team is on the same page. Your business plan wasn’t written just for you it was written for your company and all of its key people.

  1. A New Fiscal Year

The new fiscal year is about to role around. This means it is time to set some new goals for your business. Keeping your financial objectives up to date is important to your business.

  1. Hitting New Highs

And of course one of the best reasons of all is that you may have passed a financial benchmark such as a million dollars in sales for the year. Or there has been some other significant event that has recently happened to your company. A major event is always cause for getting your plan up to date.

Update Your Plan Regularly

Remember your plan needs to be updated regularly if it is to be of any use to you. These are just some of the more significant events that may happen to your business which should give you a reason for updating it. Of course it really is a good idea to actually update it on a quarterly basis regardless of whether one of these events has occurred or not. Remember your business plan won’t be able to help you if it doesn’t reflect your current situation.

Citing Sources in a Business Plan: Forecast Market Trends Using Facts, not Fantasy

In a tight credit market, lenders and investors want to see verifiable information in a business plan’s analysis. When seeking financing or investors, show the facts!

Businesses seeking financing or investors must be supported by a business plan that provides verifiable information. Especially during an economic downturn, lenders and venture capitalists will go over financial projections with a fine-toothed comb. The plans that back up claims with research provide a competitive edge to those businesses in an increasingly tight credit market.

Finding Sources to Cite

The best practice is to do research before writing a business or marketing plan. Not only is it more ethical and professional, it also makes it much easier to back up the data if the writer knows what information is available beforehand. Some places to check for facts include:

  • Government reports, including demographical data from the US Census Bureau
  • Industry and trade publications
  • The business section of any college or academic library

It is perfectly acceptable to conduct market research specific to the business, as well. A study conducted or commissioned by the subject business should clearly lay out the methods used for gathering data, and the full report should be included as an appendix to the business plan.

Choosing a Citation Method

Various styles of citing sources existing in academia, but there is no generally accepted method for business writing. When deciding how to cite sources, the following tips should be kept in mind:

  • Be appropriate: what method will be easiest for the readers of the business plan?
  • Be consistent: once a method is selected, use the same one throughout the document to avoid confusion.
  • Be convenient: keep footnotes on the same page as the main text whenever possible – avoiding the additional page flipping may increase the likelihood that the plan is read all the way through.

There are three main academic forms of citation, as well as more specialized styles.

  • The Modern Language Association (MLA) format is often used in the humanities.
  • The American Psychological Association (APA) style is common in the social sciences, and is appropriate for plans that cite more technical documents.
  • The University of Chicago Press maintains the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • The Council of Science Editors (CSE) uses a format that is useful for engineering and research firms.
  • Plans that rely upon trends in litigation or intellectual property rights may be well served by using one of the legal citation styles used in court briefs.

In the business world, the specific method of citation is a matter of preference, either the writer’s or the reader’s. The purpose of citing sources in a business plan is to make it clear that the plan is thoroughly researched, and the method selected should leave the reader with no doubt.

The Business School Admission Process: Selection Criteria, Types of Courses and Funding

Management education can propel careers, but thorough knowledge of the admission process is needed to obtain an Master of Business Administration degree.

Applications for management education are on the rise worldwide, as professionals and students realize the importance of an MBA to boost careers. The admission process is fairly long and competitive and candidates need to be aware of the intricacies of the process.

Admission Criteria

The admission requirements generally include a sixteen year educational background. All applicants are required to take the Graduate Management Aptitude Test or the GMAT. Several schools also require TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores. This is mainly for international applicants from countries where the native language is not English. Full time work experience is usually preferred by schools across the world. The actual application requires candidates to write essays clearly mentioning their career aspirations and reasons for applying to the particular school.

Types of Courses

There is a wide range of MBA programs available to suit the needs of candidates. The Evening MBA or Morning MBAs are designed for the benefit of working professionals who can continue their current professions while earning an MBA degree. Full time MBA course duration ranges from 11 to 21 months. Shorter courses usually do not include an internship. Executive MBAs are for working professionals with several years of comprehensive work experience including management or budgeting experience.

Worldwide Schools to Choose From

The choice of doing an MBA from schools in a particular country or location is an important parameter for choosing a business school. More often than not, graduating students end up working in the country from which they completed the course. Many schools across the world also specialize in a particular stream of management like consulting, finance or hospitality or healthcare management. Apart from the schools reputation and brand image, students look at rankings, quality of faculty, size of alumni and class diversity to make their choice.

Funding the MBA

Management education is an expensive affair. There are several options availed by students including federal loans, corporate sponsorship, scholarships and assistantships. For international applicants loans may require co-signers who posses citizenship of the target country. Several organizations or financial institutions offer educational loans which are repayable post the MBA course completion. These loans are sometimes granted against collaterals.

Global MBA Fairs

International applicants are usually unable to make campus visits to know more about the institution and get a feel of the atmosphere of their target schools. MBA tours provide an opportunity for students to interact with alumni or members from the admission committee to clarify queries face to face. Some schools also interview prospective candidates face to face in these tours.

Visas and Work Permits

Regulations for international applicants to work in a foreign country vary widely. The UK for example require students to qualify through an HSMP points based system for granting of work permits post their courses. Some countries like Spain do not allow students to continue to work once the student visa expires.

Business School admissions are fiercely competitive and prospective students need to have strong overall applications to secure admission. Solid international work experience, cross cultural diversity, professional and extra curricular activities demonstrating strong leadership and interpersonal skills are few of the differentiating factors that admission committees look out for. Admission committees carefully evaluate the candidates application holistically to gauge a candidates fit to a particular school at the same time balancing the class diversity.

Management education in top B-schools across the world requires adequate planning and preparation. The end result is very rewarding in most cases with professionals moving up in their careers at an accelerated pace or even switching career tracks and job functions needless to say, with much larger paychecks.

The Necessity of a Good Business Plan: Why Your Business Needs to Have a Proper Plan

It’s a given that a business needs a business plan. Often, though, business owners, once they’ve written their plan, will neglect it. But your plan is your guide.

Getting a business off the ground is not an easy thing to do. It requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice. But what many people fail to realize is that what a business needs most of all is a good plan. People start businesses based on ideas and emotions. They believe they have a great idea or they feel they can do something better. And they may be right. But before they go and throw their time, money and other resources into a business they need to make sure they have a plan. Without it all you have is a recipe for disaster.

Tools to Construct Your Plan

Before you even dream of getting the doors of your business open you need to construct your plan. You need to take your vision and articulate it for people to read. To help you do this you can purchase a software program that will help you to put together a nicely layed out plan. There are also plenty of free examples all over the internet for you to take a look at in case you’re not sure what one looks like. You might even find an example of a plan in your industry.

What Your Business Plan Is Used for

Your business plan is a plan for the present and for the future. It’s about both where your company currently is and where you want it to go. It will be used to convince others such as banks and potential investors about either the strength of your idea or of your company. It will show them how you plan to thrive and grow. Your business plan reflects how much you know about your industry, your market, and your competition. Your business plan can be used to sell your ideas to others.

Business Plan Ingredients

In your business plan you’ll state what your short and long term goals are for the business. You’ll detail the steps you are taking and intend to take to get there. You’ll explain the resources you have to use and what more you’ll need for your plan to be a success. And you’ll be prepared to adjust your plan as the future unfolds. You’ll adjust it and tweak it constantly because your goals will change and so to must your plan. You have to be flexible with your plan.

Your Vision for Your Business

A business plan is about a vision and its goal is to help you explain that vision to others. It is meant to be an ever present reminder to you of what you are trying to achieve. It does you no good if it is shoved in a drawer and left to collect dust. You need to refer to it often so that you know whether or not you are accomplishing the goals that you established in your plan. It needs to be updated regularly so that it can reflect the changes that have taken place since the plan was created. It needs to be updated so that it stays relevant to the present and the future. That is why you need a good business plan.

Michelangelo the Entrepreneur: A Creative Visionary With Interpersonal Business Skills

Michelangelo is an internationally ubiquitous figure throughout the world, from references to his life and work through popular culture on post cards, commercials, and movies, he is known for a level of creative genius rarely achieved. The view of the irascible creative artist can be a misconception though, and disregards other entrepreneurial attributes that are essential to success, such as the interpersonal qualities of networking and relationship building.

The book Michelangelo at San Lorenzo: the Genius as Entrepreneur by William E. Wallace [Cambridge University Press, 1994], provides an interpretation of Michelangelo’s life as a networking collaborator, and sheds light on the operations and team work processes utilized to achieve his iconic status. Michelangelo raised the standards of the artist, and the way he accomplished this responsibility was through a loyal network of contractors, artists, and project commissions that he respected and worked with openly.

Michelangelo the Interpersonal Manager

Michelangelo holds a prominent position in raising the standards of the artist. He accomplished this through the genius of his work, a meticulous work ethic, and through valuable affiliations, leadership, and teamwork skills. He was very thorough and particular in his work and business. For most of the commissioned activities through his life there was a multitude of workers that assisted with the construction and completion of these assignments.

He managed and built an infrastructure that thrived on synergy, enhancing the productivity that any one person could achieve. In fact, later in Michelangelo’s life he became more of a supervisor for these workers, and instructed them as they followed a template of the undertakings.

Today, the historian is able to know these details, thanks to Michelangelo’s meticulous nature. He kept very detailed records of the names, wages, and other details about his workers on the back of the templates containing his ideas. This detail of the artistic process most likely reinforced the success gained by protecting against any mishaps or confusion that could have ensued without such attention to detail.

Michelangelo the Networker

Michelangelo also elevated the integrity of the artist by gaining an imperial recognition and affiliation. He believed he was a descendant of the affluent Medici lineage, and this specious assertion was eventually permitted. He joined the Medici household; bring him inimitable connections and opportunities. For instance, it gave him guaranteed income to enterprise his artistic talent with having access to abundant supplies and materials. It also gave him imminent job security.

During this time in history many Popes came from wealthy families. Michelangelo was connected to the Pope through the Medici family, and this provided multiple artistic prospects. It is important to give recognition to the investment his family connections provided, since he would not have been afforded these numerous opportunities without them.

During the sixteenth century, Europe was in the midst of disruption and modification due to the Protestant Reformation. This turmoil and confrontation that the Catholic Church was facing instigated a change in the purpose and depiction of art. The Catholics wanted to aggrandize the church by adorning it with artistic depictions of the holy. Consequently, much of the art at this time was commissioned by the church, and so reflected the views and desires of the Catholic institution. Michelangelo’s connection to the Pope and church through the Medici lineage can be viewed as a contributor to the abundance of papal commissions obtained.

Michelangelo the Entrepreneur

Michelangelo is without contention a redoubtable artist that has influenced preceding generations, but a catalyst for his imminent success may have been due to the capability to manage and coordinate a vast network of coworkers and joining a union with affluent counterparts that provided resources and further connections. All the manpower at his disposal would have made it easier to efficiently fulfill and complete the countless artistic works that are attributed to him today.

This shows the importance of blending soft skills with the implementation of a creative vision. Vision provides the path for the entrepreneur and the interpersonal skills and team building capacity to manage and lead offers the means to trend a path less traveled.