5 Secrets That Will Thrust Your Small Business Into the Big League

There are 28 million small businesses in the US. The sad reality is that most of them fail within the first few years of operation. The small percentage that survive stay small forever. A select few manage to grow into huge businesses. But why them and not the others? What are the factors that enable unknowns to become household brands? One thing for sure that it takes much more than hard work, luck, and timing. Read on to see if your small business has what it takes to make the leap into the big league?SystemsMany small business owners’ lives are chaotic due to lack of systems. Systems are hard, but they enable small businesses to scale. Systems are not glorious like sales, marketing, or research and development. Some say that systems are boring, after all, it is a back office function. Systems separate struggling small businesses from those that grow by leaps and bounds. Creating systems can be a daunting task, and for many, the prospect of taking on yet another project is out of the question. For some, it is a catch-22 situation. You may say “How do I carve out extra time from my already hectic schedule.” The correct way to think of systems is that creating them is an investment in your business.One of the greatest challenges that small business owners face is that the they are perpetual decision makers. The owner is involved in everything from sales, customer service, research and development, bookkeeping, so an and so forth. Creating systems is the first step toward a business where not every decision is dependent on the entrepreneur. Systems allow people to plug in and go. Systems include operating procedures and manuals that can bring a new team member up to speed in no time. It is what takes small out of small business.Franchise businesses are often more successful than independently operated ones simply because they are built on systems. The franchisee may be paying a premium in upstart costs compared to an independent business, but it makes sense for many because they don’t have to worry about developing systems. Someone already went ahead and created the necessary systems for success. When you buy a franchise you are taking a system that has been proved to work. Does it mean that you have to buy a franchise to succeed? Absolutely not, but you have to think of your own independent business as a franchise. Create procedures for everything. Don’t leave anything to guesswork.Most small businesses do without systems, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. While you might get away with it in the beginning the lack of systems will create huge bottle necks down the road. The lack of systems will reduce your profits. Why? Because you and your employees will have to reinvent the wheel day in and day out. systems minimize the element of surprise. With systems in place your team is able to deliver consistent service. Businesses with consistently good service will outperform those with fluctuating quality service.In addition to making your life easier, systems also increase the value of your business. Buyers want to buy businesses that are built on systems. The presence of systems tell buyers that the business doesn’t entirely rely on you. Creating systems help you create a turnkey operation, appealing to buyers. Business systems are assets that enable your company to run without you.ScalabilityInvestors love highly scalable companies because they have the potential to multiply revenue with minimal incremental cost. You simply can’t substantially grow a business without cracking the scaling code. Some business are built to scale while others are forever destined for small business status. Unfortunately, many professional service providers are not scalable because they rely on personal output. So, if your goal is to build a big company avoid consulting types of businesses. A software company, on the other hand, is a highly scalable business model. Once the software product has been completed it can be sold millions of times with minimal costs. In other words, their increased revenues cost less to deliver than current revenues. What this means is that a scalable business will be able to increase the operating margin as revenue grows.A highly scalable business requires small variable costs that the company can control. Variable cost changes with the volume of business. Fixed costs do not vary with sales. For example, for a software company fixed costs include the cost of the office location, computers, and furniture. These cannot be quickly added or liquidated. Salaries on the other hand are a variable cost since workers can be hired and fired relatively fast.Most consulting businesses like marketing agencies are not scalable because they are unable to substantially increase their revenue without greatly increasing their variable costs. Such businesses are considered poor investments.To build a scalable business you should start with a scalable idea. Scalable businesses have high margins. They require low support and staff expenses. Scalable businesses allow you to work on your business as opposed to working in your business. If you find yourself constantly working in your business your business is either not scalable or not yet ready to scale.Truly scalable businesses are highly automated. Automation helps you reduce variable costs such as labor. It is at this point when scaling and systems begin to work together. If you truly want to become a market leader or dominate your industry, scalability is the only way to do it without a miracle.Board of advisorsIf your goal is rapid growth, you must have a board that you can rely on for your big audacious goals. The life of an entrepreneur can be a lonely one. Often you feel like you are all alone with all the decisions you have to make. Your board will share some of the burdens of making key decisions and it will tell the outside world that you are systematic about your business, and that you understand that you need to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. Your board will help you with large strategic goals. It can help with your overall business plan, policy issues, financial questions, strategic partnerships, and more.Your board shouldn’t be utilized to deal with routine tactical challenges. Don’t waste the boards time on daily employee issues or what color the chose for your new office. Rather, let your board help you with strategic advice, or by helping you with making introductions to strategic partners and recruiting talent.Fellow entrepreneurs and business leaders make excellent board members. Before you build your board you should have a clear understanding of what areas you need help with. Ask yourself what skills do you currently lack that you need to take your business to the next level? Is it marketing, intellectual property, or finance? Whatever it is you need help with should influence the ultimate makeup of your board. You could hire a recruiter, but they are expensive. It is best if you perform the search yourself.Your board is not a group of your closest friends. It is a group of professionals, each with a respective specialty. One might be an IP attorney while another a retired CEO. You are not looking for a group of yes men. If you build a great board, each member will have more experience than you and each will know much more than you. If you feel like the dumbest person in the room, you are on the right track.Your board of advisors will not join you for the money, but there are costs involved. It is a good idea to compensate your advisors. At least, you should cover their expenses. Do they need to travel to your board meetings? Are there hotel and other expenses? It is also advisable to pay a per meeting fee that might be a few hundreds or a few thousand dollars. In addition to monetary compensation, you could chose to offer stock as payment.IP (Intellectual Property)Most small business owners care most about time and money. Some understand that IP is as good as money in the bank. It is considered one of the most important assets of some of the most valuable companies in the world. Even though IP is an intangible asset, it’s almost impossible to build a hugely successful business without it. If you are going to dominate your industry or at least be one of its key players, IP is a must. You can often read about huge business acquisition deals structured around IP. Often, IP is the reason companies are bought and sold for huge multiples.Simply put, IP makes your company more competitive. Without IP you end up competing on price and efficiency, a tough way to build your business. When you compete through IP you often set your own price, a luxury most businesses never experience. Since innovation is the main driver in business, developing IP should be a key objective for all companies that want to enter the big league.If you are an early stage company wanting to attract investors, your IP might be what closes the deal for you. Investors look at IP with regard to the level of income it may generate through its life. Some companies bet their futures on IP. Richard Thoman, the CEO of Xerox, declared that the “management of IP is how value added is going to be created at Xerox.” An excellent example of IP management is IBM; it managed to generate about $1 billion from IP by 1990. IP is the intangible asset that can become your free cash flow.When IP is properly managed it can prevent your competitors from copying your products or services. You can avoid wasteful investment in R&D. IP is a revenue generating profit machine that makes your company more valuable and competitive, getting you ever so closer to market domination.BrandMany small business owners, wrongly believe, that brand building is reserved for giant corporations. But, building your brand should be a key focus from the very early stages of your company’s life. Your brand is another intangible asset you can’t build a market leading company without. It is your brand that may enable your business one day to avoid competing on price only. It is your brand that may one day help you dominate your market. It is through the power of your brand that you will be able to minimize your new customer acquisition costs.Successful brands are easily recognizable. Virtually all fortune 500 companies have managed to build a strong brand image. Powerful brands instill certain images in consumers from tradition, to quality, to innovation, to any number of thoughts and feelings. As competition increases, so does the importance of building credible brands.Brands are not born out of thin air, they are strategically developed. Building your brand is no less important than developing your sales strategy or R&D. The process of building your brand is a never ending job. There is no such thing as a finished brand. Finished brands are for businesses that are finished. You can never think of brand building as a project with a beginning and an end.While advertising is important it is not advertising that creates your brand. Your brand is a reflection on everything that your company does. Your brand is the quality of your product or service. It is also the way you treat your customers, and even your employees. Your brand is shaped by how the world perceives you.The value of each brand fluctuates. Your company scores big on your latest product and the value of your brand rises. One of your employees publicly ridicules one of your upset customers and your brand suffers. The good news is that for the most part, you are in charge of your brand’s destiny.Even the worlds greatest brands are not always on an upward trajectory. Strong brands can help your company survive disasters. Recently, the Toyota brand had been plagued by millions of recalls, yet the company managed to come out of it all with an even stronger brand.It is true that not each small business wants to become an industry leader. But, it’s also true that there are no accidental market leaders. Most small businesses are family owned and operated, and there is nothing wrong with that. You can be happy, fulfilled, and wealthy running a small business. But, if your choice is to grow your business into a true market leader you have to build your business on systems. You have to be able to crack the scaling code, so you can dramatically increase your revenue with minimal expenses. You will need trusted advisors that are smarter and more experienced than you. It will be an uphill battle, or perhaps even impossible without proper IP management. Your brand will soften the blow when you are hit with disasters. Of course, there are other factors such as luck and timing that transform small businesses into huge success stories, but the above five make for a good start.

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Understanding the Different Method of Hydroponics Systems

With so many different types of hydroponics systems available, indoor growing can become somewhat confusing. But when you get down to the basics, you’ll find there are only six different types of hydroponic systems.These basic systems come in different configurations, sizes and even materials. You might also see several basic systems combined into one system. All this can make the various basic systems look different.Wick SystemThis is the simplest hydroponic system. It has no moving parts and works the same way as an oil lamp. In other words, the nutrient solutions are wicked up to the plant as it is being used.Your plants are placed in a growing medium which is kept moist by wicks. These wicks are made from a strip of highly absorbent material such as felt or cotton. The wick runs through the growing medium and out the bottom into a container of nutrient solutions. These wicks constantly replenish the moisture in the growing medium.Water Culture SystemYou may hear it called ‘bubbleponics’ but the real name is, ‘Water Culture.’With this system, the roots of your plants are suspended directly into the nutrient solutions. It is usually constructed of Styrofoam which floats like a raft on top of the solution. Then you cut holes in the Styrofoam for the plants.The most important part of the system is an air pump attached to an air stone. This generates a continuous flow of tiny air bubbles so the roots can breathe. Otherwise, the totally submerged roots will tend to suffocate.Ebb & Flow (Flood & Drain)As we look at each of the basic systems, you’ll notice that each becomes a little more difficult than the previous system. For example, this system requires a submersible water pump and a timer set to run in cycles.There are many ways to build this system but the basic principal is always the same. A reservoir filled with your nutrient solution is placed below the plants. This creates a siphoning action which drains the solution back into the reservoir when the pump shuts off. The timer cycles the pump on and off to flood the system and keep the roots moist.In the grow tray an overflow tube is placed which usually rests about two inches below the top of the growing medium. This allows the water level to rise high enough to saturate the root system but not so high as to cause root rot problems. The overflow tube also prevents the solution from overflowing out of the grow tray. The excess solution flows directly back into the reservoir for reuse.Nutrient Film Technique (NFT System)First of all you don’t need a timer because the solution flows 24/7. But like the Ebb & Flow, there’s a reservoir that sits below the level of the plants.The solution flows along the bottom of the containers that hold the plant roots. The bottom roots are then able to reach into the solution and wick up moisture to the upper roots. This enables the upper roots to still get the air and oxygen they need to grow. The solution then flows back into the reservoir and is recycled past the plants again and again.There are many ways to build a NFT System. Generally they are laid out as a series of tubes in rows that hold the plants. These tubes are tilted downward to facilitate the flow of nutrients.A pump delivers the solution to the top of the tube and gravity takes care of the rest. Because the system is easily expanded, you can have hundreds of rows operating within just one set-up.Drip SystemsIf you’re familiar with drip irrigation system used in outdoor gardening, you are also familiar with a hydroponic drip system. The difference is that instead of plain water, you use a nutrient solution.There are two ways to run a drip system. Both are set up essentially the same way. The nutrient solution is pumped through the lines to the plants where it drips down through the growing medium, and when it reaches the bottom, one of two things happen.Either the nutrient solutions is captured and sent back to the reservoir through return lines. This is most popular and economical system. However, in using this system, keep a close check on your solution.Each time the solution passes through the medium, some of the nutrients are used up and the pH will gradually change. Frequent readings will tell you when to add more nutrients or completely drain the reservoir and refill it with new.A non-recovery system avoids this problem by allowing the nutrient to either drip on the ground or be directed to a waste drain.Aeroponic SystemThis system is very much like the Ebb & Flow system. The big difference is that the roots are completely suspended in the air. To keep them moist with solution, they are frequently sprayed with misters.The nutrient solution then drips down off the roots and is collected in a reservoir to be sprayed again. It’s important to use a timer with this system which can be set to cycle on and off many times a day. Otherwise, the roots will tend to dry out.It’s also important to frequently measure the pH and PPM of your solution. Over a period of time the pH will change and nutrients within the system will be used up.

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Brainstorming to Collect Data in Designing the Corporate Computer Network

Suppose that you are appointed to lead a project of a computer network design in your organization that contains many sites that need to be integrated into a single corporate private network, what are you going to do? As a team leader, a time-frame project as general needs to be developed first that includes the brainstorming to collect data as much as possible, the blueprint project, budget forecasting, liaising with the third parties and so on.It’s quite difficult to start a project properly without knowing exactly what the strengths and weaknesses of supporting infrastructure which the system will base on. It is therefore, a computer network design should start by brainstorming to collect data as much as possible.Assume this computer network design will involve three sites: one main headquarter office in Sydney, one main office in Jakarta, and one remote site – the gold mine in the middle of the Borneo jungle. The principal of the organization would like to have all the sites linked to a single corporate computer network to allow inter-sites communication including data, voice, or probably video conference and off course to allow easy communication with the whole world.Telecommunication RequirementsThe first data for your computer network design that needs to be collected is the telecommunication system requirements. The main question is how to link all of the sites to allow system communication to happen. The following questions can be used to collect the data for the telecommunication requirements.1. How to arrange the Telecommunication service in remote site? We understand that both the main offices in Sydney and Jakarta are located in the area where you can find lots of communication services. What about the remote site – the site in the middle of the jungle? You should liaise with the third party company that can provide WAN services technology – probably uses the satellite link communication.2. Collect the information what kinds of communication will be allowed for remote site to the Jakarta office: data only, voice, video, or combination of those. This information is important to help you determine how wide the satellite link bandwidth you need. This will relate to the budget since satellite link is expensive.3. What kind of WAN technology to link data between Jakarta and Sydney, frame relay, ISDN network, VPN connection? Liaising with the third party – the telecommunication company will help.You need to dig and find more data that specific to the project. Telecommunication requirements should be sorted out first before you can proceed to collect other infrastructure requirements in this case.Network Infrastructure RequirementsSecond requirement for your computer network design is to collect data regarding the network infrastructure requirements. All related data for both logical and physical infrastructure requirements must be collected as much as possible. The following questions can be used to collect the data.1. How many hosts will be in each site including workstations, servers, switches, routers, wireless access points, and VoIP. This will help in calculating and designing the IP address requirements.2. Collect the information with the principal management if they need to host public resources either in Sydney or Jakarta sites. If so, where will all the public resources be located, inside the private network or in the DMZ (perimeter network)? This will help in designing the entry-point security. By hosting public resources, domain name must be designed in a secure manner such as separating the domain naming between internal and public usage.3. Collect the information regarding the security requirements for internal network. Will particular sections or departments need security boundary? This will help in designing your computer network if the network segmentation within the local network is needed. And also helps in designing how the users are grouped and appropriate policies are developed to comply with the security requirements.4. Collect the information with the principal management to develop service level agreements regarding the availability of the network resources. How critical the network resources will affect the business continuity if they ever fail to function. This will help you design the requirements of the redundant resources such as the need of clustering, load balancing and so on.5. Collect the information regarding the location in each sites such as how good the power is, how long the distances between each building that will connect to the network, is it feasible to run the network cabling or wireless connection. If the wireless connection is needed, examine how the attenuation factors will affect the wireless performance.6. Collect the information if the travelling users or tele-workers will be allowed to access the corporate network resources. This will help you design your VPN requirements and the security requirements regarding the authentication and the authorization for remote connection.7. And still more diggings needed regarding the infrastructure requirements that is specific to the project. By having the brainstorming data regarding the infrastructure requirements you can make the budget regarding the hardware, software, and consultants requirements for the implementation of your computer network design.Disaster ManagementIn your computer network design, the disaster recovery and business continuity planning should be in mind. The what if this fail question should base all the decisions of your design including selecting the location, hardware, software, models, the third party involves and so on. For example in building the server room, it’s a wise decision not to populate all the servers into a single main server room. Another alternate server in different building would be much better to avoid a single point of failure in case of the main server room is totally burned in fire disaster. The draft diagram of the computer network design should be evaluated precisely. Risk security assessment must be performed to help you design the appropriate control to reduce the possible threats to occur and if the threats ever occur, what actions must be taken to allow the business to run at least in the minimum operational level.In your computer network design should also consider the easiness in maintaining the system later by the administrators by providing a comprehensive documentation including the operational manuals and disaster recovery planning.By Ki Grinsing

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A Guide to Help You Pick the Best Air Purifier for Your Loved Ones

Holidays are around the corner. This is the time of year when people start purchasing gifts for their loved ones. If you are going to purchase an air purifier for someone you love, we have some helpful tips for you. If you want to purchase the best unit, you may be able to use this guide to your advantage. Read on to find out more.

1: Set Your Budget

Just like anything you purchase, make sure you have set your budget first. The price of the unit will vary based on a lot of factors, such as the capacity, filter type, features, and brand of the unit. If you don’t have a flexible budget, we suggest that you go for a product that is available to purchase for less than $300.

2: Consider the Needs of the Recipient

Your next move is to consider the needs of your recipient. If you are going to purchase this unit for everyday use, we suggest that you go for a unit that comes with a HEPA filter. On the other hand, if your loved one has a specific need, we suggest that you consider a specialized unit.

For example, if they are more prone to respiratory issues, such as allergies and infections, we suggest that you get a UV purifier for them. The devices are designed to neutralize viruses and bacteria.

3: Think About the Available Space

Another primary factor is to consider the available space in the office or house of the recipient. For example, if they need a general-purpose unit for a small apartment, you may want to consider a filterless unit.

On the other hand, if they have plenty of free space, you may consider a bigger unit that features a higher airflow rating. These units are powerful enough to cover a large face.

4: Consider Extra Features

Lastly, we suggest that you consider additional features that they will just love. For example, some units come with an indicator that turns on when the filter needs to be replaced. This will allow the user to change the filter so that the device continues to work properly.

So, you may want to consider these features before you place your order. These features may not be important to you, but your friend may just be over the moon.

Long story short, we suggest that you consider these four tips if you are going to purchase a gift for your loved one on these holidays. Since the air is full of pollution during winter days, nothing can make a better gift than an air purifier. Therefore, you should consider these tips before looking for an online or physical store to make your purchase decision.

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The Significance of Pure Air Inside Your Home

Have you ever climbed up mountains? If so, what do you do when you reach the top? Most people open their arms, close their eyes, and take a deep breath. That is the special thing about clean and fresh air. You feel like taking a pause and inhaling fresh air. Over the past year, we have faced several waves of coronavirus. These days, we have been warned about another wave of this virus. Therefore, the importance of clean air has been increasing day by day. In this article, we are going to find out why air quality is important when it comes to our indoor environment.

The impact of pollution on your indoor air

No matter where you go, you will have to face the consequences of poor quality. Even if you are alone in your home, you will still be prone to polluted air. Every year, more than 1 million people lose their life because of air pollution.

According to some reports, India is among the top 10 countries in the world with the worst air quality. The effect of polluted air is more evident as people spend over 90% of their time inside their homes. Another research study found that residents are at a greater risk of covid-19.

As a matter of fact, indoor air pollution has become an international concern. We can say that pollution levels inside and in closed spaces are up to five times higher. Since most pollutants are not visible to the naked eye, you may not be able to aware of the dangers of dirty air.

Indoor air pollutants may be generated by common household items, such as cleaning agents, cooking fuel, furniture polish, pet dander, and paint. Apart from this, domestic appliances such as refrigerators and heaters may also be the common source.

Since homes are not airtight, air pollutants can easily get in. For example, smog, smoke, mold spores, and dust can get into your house through your windows or doors. Air conditioners can be used to cool down your rooms. But the downside is that they can also boost the movement of pollutants across your house.

What can you do to purify your indoor air?

Basically, air purifiers are simple devices that receive dirty air and put it out after passing it through powerful filters. Nowadays, you can choose from hundreds of air purification units available in the market. They are based on a wide range of technologies. They are available in different sizes to cover rooms of different sizes.

Nowadays, most types of air purifiers depend on HEPA technology. Initially, this technology was introduced in the 40s in order to capture pollutants from the air. Although these filters have been used for the filtration of particulate matter, they may not be that effective when it comes to eliminating volatile organic compounds.

Therefore, if you are worried about your health, we suggest that you invest in a type of device that comes with a HEPA filter. With these units, filtering your indoor air will be a piece of cake. Therefore, you can count on these devices to and ensure clean air inside your house.

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