How To Harness The Youth Perspective For Your Business

They say that if you want to survive in today’s business world, the best you can do is to adapt to the changes. One of the things you, as a business, should watch out for would be how you welcome young blood. While not really a big problem in the past, the difference between the young and the old these days is oftentimes too big that adding some fresh blood in your company can give you leverage.
But can you properly harness this youth perspective and profit?

One thing we should notice is that people in their late teens and early to middle 20’s have a very different perspective than those who are older. They literally grew up surrounded by new technology and ideologies that shape their personalities. So what can you do to use this difference in perspective?
According to experts, small spats may occur whenever old and young blood mix. While unavoidable, you can always look at the bright side. Make sure you make the best out of these clashes. The younger generation might be geared towards using technology to move forward while the seasoned veterans would want to stick with what works. Find a common ground. Use the youth perspective along with some veteran moves to create a plan.

Hiring younger employees might just give your business a boost. Adding some fresh pair of eyes to a company can offer you new business perspectives that can differentiate you from your competition. So if you feel like your business lacks a little something, maybe you just need a new and younger batch of employees.


An Unexpected Source for Business Advice

While a lot of people assume that the best resource for business advice would be the bigger websites owned by large content conglomerates and business “gurus.” Majority of business owners, both men and women, still go for a different source for business advice.

Who would’ve thought businessmen from all over the world would opt to turn towards government owned websites for business advice? In all honestly, I can’t blame them. Government websites should be a one-stop shop for people looking for business advice.

Forms, FAQs, Tips

The government holds various websites for different departments. For example, the government may have a website specifically created for people with disabilities who want to work or they may also have a small website for groups of people who want to start a small group business. These websites not only offer people a place where they can learn more about what they need to do but they also provide additional resource.

One good example is a government owned UK website for women who wants to start their own business. It contains all the necessary resources for women who might think of owning her own business. The best thing about the website is that it is not driven by “profit” and offers advice without biases.
So if you are looking for business advice, why not start to look at government owned websites for information? Not only can they give you un-biased advice, they can also provide you with all the necessary resources you might need to pursue your endeavor.

Understanding The True Power Of Systems In Your Business

My recent article on a revolutionary but common-sense system for handling business accounting reminded me once again of the critical importance of systems in general across all sizes of firms.

Particularly at the smaller end of the spectrum, by far the most common failure I’ve seen in business over the years is an almost complete failure to really grasp the nettle of systemization.

Once you’ve been around the block a few times, the importance of a systems mindset (and the defined processes that go with it) is so screamingly obvious that it’s simply taken for granted.

You’d be amazed, however, at the amount of businesses across America that are struggling through from one week to the other with almost no systems at all in place.

The result of ignoring the power of systems is not just the inevitable demise of a business over time. It can also take an outrageous toll on the mental health of those responsible for running these poorly organized outfits, and it’s a horribly easy trap to fall into.

By far the most psychologically perceptive treatment of the subject I’ve ever read is Sam Carpenter’s Work the System. Pound for pound, it’s one of the most practical business books you’ll ever read in your life.

Whether as a business owner or employee, if you’ve ever found yourself adrift in a sea of general disorganized chaos and struggling to see the forest for the trees, this book could literally be a lifesaver.

Don’t just take my word for it though! Give Sam 50 or so minutes of your time by watching the video above and you’ll soon be convinced!

Putting Profits First

We covered the dread subject of bean-counting and accountancy in a recent post and it’s stayed very much to the forefront of my mind over the last week, thanks largely to a recent read I’d like to share with my audience.

I can’t quite remember how Mike Michalowicz first popped up on my radar, but I found myself hitting that tempting one-click purchase button on Amazon recently to pick up a copy of his book Profit First.

I pretty much devoured this in one sitting and he makes a compelling case throughout. Mike’s clearly walked the walk over his career with a classic string of early business successes, a gut-wrenching, hubris-driven financial meltdown, and a triumphant third act behind him.

Mike puts forward a simple but revolutionary proposal that should be of particular interest for anyone running a smaller business, but that applies to enterprises of nearly any size.

Put simply, he says that your business should be paying itself first in the form of profits, then making allocations for all other expenses. This is a simple but revolutionary idea and is more or less the opposite of how over 90% of businesses in the real world. It’s also, once you get into the convincing case he lays out for such an approach, a potentially very, very useful way of going about business.

I’m not going to try and butcher his overall proposition here as I’m still mulling over some of the concepts he raises in the context of my own businesses. What I will say, though, is that if you are in charge of any size of business at all, his chapters on analyzing the core numbers underpinning your current performance are solid gold.

This one is a must-read and I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve picked up a copy!

The Language of Business

Education is a subject that’s been on my mind a lot of late. As we head into another election cycle, it’s clearer than ever that the root cause of much of the nation’s ills can be traced back to educational issues. Though the list of egregious mistakes America has made in this regard over the last century is a long one, hope is definitely on the horizon.

I’ve previously highlighted one future direction I think education will inevitably go in – online learning. In today’s piece, I want to get a little more specific by looking at a particular aspect of business that’s consistently woefully misunderstood – the subject of accounting.

Accounting is the language of business and those who don’t understand it thoroughly are bound to get left in the cold sooner or later. When I was coming up, it was taken as a given that people above a certain pay scale or level of experience were sure to be well-versed in its intricacies. These days I’m not so certain that’s the case.

Over the last ten years, I’ve found myself in an increasingly large number of business situations where it soon became clear that the basic financial literacy of some of the other attendees left a lot to be desired. This isn’t to doubt the drive, creativity or general acumen of the people I’m talking about here, it was simply obvious to someone who has a firm grip on the basics that there was a large hole in their basic knowledge.

Now I’m not suggesting that everyone has to suddenly become an expert in arcane aspects of the tax code, or be able to instantly parse a complex set of multi-national accounts. Accountancy and bookkeeping exist as lucrative trades for a very good reason – they’re both specialized skills it’s usually more than worth paying somebody to take care of on your behalf.

It should, however, be taken for granted that most business people should be more than comfortable with basic accounting concepts. This isn’t, in my experience, a particularly big ask either. The fundamentals involved can be learned in a matter of weeks and will serve you well for a lifetime.

I’ve recently been trying to hammer home the importance of this core knowledge set to both people within the organization I lead and beyond. As part of that push (and in keeping with my earlier ruminations on which way education is heading), I’ve been on the lookout for online resources I can point people in the direction of. Two immediately leaped out from the pack:

  1. AccountingCoach: The core of this comprehensive course is free and a measly one-time payment of $49 unlocks the full curriculum.
  2. LearnAccountingForFree: If this completely free course is good enough for Clayton Christensen and the students of Harvard Business School, it’s good enough for you.

So, I urge you, if you’ve been putting off getting to grips with the core concepts the business world runs on, delay no longer! A comprehensive knowledge of the basics that will serve you over your career is mere weeks of applied learning away. Hit the books!


Is Winter Coming?

One of the classic investing/trading chestnuts I’ve long sailed my ship by is “sell in May and go away“.

It doesn’t always work of course, and I’m certainly not clearing out my entire portfolio every year when May comes around, but I’ve been lucky enough to dodge more than my share of bullets over the years by casting a cold eye over the markets in early to mid-May, and pursuing a less active trading strategy in that half of the year.

With Autumn well and truly underway, I’m finding myself much more worried about the October to May period than I usually am. Put simply, I suspect something a little more serious than a “correction” is just around the corner.

I’m far from an economic doom-monger under normal circumstances and bullish about the American economy long-term. I still believe that the sheer amount of drive, energy and technical ingenuity that this country is lucky enough to possess will see us good for many years to come. In terms of the short-term economic forecast however, Winter may well be coming.

I’m seeing signs of this everywhere I look at the moment. In particular, Caterina Fake’s recent piece on cockroaches versus unicorns crystallized something I’ve been mulling over for a considerable time.

The last five years have seen an enormous amount of real business and consumer value created by venture capital backed Silicon Valley firms, but there are an awful lot of poorly run “businesses” out there (backed by dumb money) getting by purely by spending other people’s money. It’ll be very interesting to see how things play out if the climate turns chilly. As Warren Buffet famously put it: Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.

I’m a value-based investor by nature, and don’t like to drive myself crazy looking at weekly charts, but many of those who track short-term cycles are starting to sound alarm bells.

This year’s Greek farrago and ongoing far from positive rumblings from China are just some of the wider factors making me feel distinctly uneasy about where we might be heading in the next few months. Even the IMF seem to be getting the jitters.

I’m not going to be taking any panic-driven approaches to anything in my current portfolio but there will definitely be a period of careful review between now and the end of the year. I’ll be reviewing carefully to see where I can weed out anything that might be particularly vulnerable to a prolonged short-term downturn.

A word to the wise: if you’re currently running a high-risk portfolio based on charts and predictions that only ever go up and to the right, now is a great time to reconsider how exposed you might actually be.