Monday, June 2, 2008

Bullet-Proof Your Small Business with Insurance Planning

Written by: Jon W. Ulin, CFP, Advanced Financial Advisor, Ameriprise
Financial, Inc.

Your business represents a substantial investment of your ideas, time, and money (in addition to your sweat and elbow grease). Because your business faces a variety of risks (e.g., property damage, theft, personal injury claims, and natural disasters), you'll want to protect your investment (and
family) with various types of business insurance strategies for reasons noted below.
1. To protect against risks and perils to property Property and casualty insurance protects against the loss, damage, or theft of physical assets such as buildings and equipment which could result in an interruption of the business and maybe even a complete shutdown. The right combination of insurance coverage can mean the difference between a temporary shutdown or a permanent closure.
2. To protect against liability claims
Through contact with the public and through personal injuries suffered on your business premises, your company could face liability claims and lawsuits.
3. To protect human assets
Your business can protect itself against the loss of human assets, such as the loss of services of key employees through the use of company-owned life and disability coverage on key personnel. If a covered owner or employee dies or becomes disabled, the policy provides payments to cover the loss of income generated by that person. Funds provided by the policy can help your business continue operations and remain competitive.
4. To attract and retain employees
Insurance can be used to help your business attract and retain quality employees. Group coverage such as life, health, disability, and long-term care insurance can be offered as part of your company's employee benefits package.
5. Because facility coverage may be required under the terms of your contract If you rent or lease your business facility, the contract with your landlord probably requires that your business carry its own insurance in addition to worker’s compensation.
6. Because businesses are not included in homeowners coverage Businesses are specifically excluded from coverage under a homeowners policy. If you're involved in a business activity in your home, your homeowners policy will not cover you for liability or medical payment issues. This means that your policy will not reimburse you for medical care required by a client who falls off his chair in your home office when you tell him how much tax he owes.

The office of Jon W. Ulin, CFP, Advanced Financial Advisor, Ameriprise
Financial, Inc. is located in Boca Raton

Elephants, Deer and Rabbits: Are you hunting the right business?

Written by: Greta, ProActive Training & Consulting

A few years ago, I heard this great story about hunting. Hunting??? Well, only because it’s directly related to sales (isn’t it amazing how everything seems to relate to sales)?

Your ability to sleep at night is directly related to the quality and quantity of new business that you and/or your sales team bring in. That’s a fact. So how do you decide what’s good or not so good? How do you aim in the right direction so that the all-important business comes in?

Here’s a test: list your six best customers. Identify the measurable criteria common to those six (size, profitability, distance, your product fit to their needs, etc.). Now, list the common criteria you can’t measure (what you value about them, what they value about you, etc. Think of things like “they place value on your contributions, they want to partner with you, they don’t beat you down on price, they pay for performance,” etc.).

Now rank the top five criteria on each list. Give each customer a score on a scale of 0-10. Two lists with five items each will yield a possible score of 100 points. Grade each customer and study the results. Now apply the 80/80 test: if 80% of your customers don’t score 80 or more points, your sales force in hunting in the wrong place, the wrong way, or both.

So here’s how to get them hunting the right business:

The first thing to do is have your sales team identify your accounts by category: A, B, or C.

Category C is rabbits. Rabbits are plentiful. In the world of hunting for food, if you shoot a rabbit, you’ll eat for a day.

Category B is deer. Deer are a bit more challenging. You have to be a little savvier, and a bit better than your competitors. But if you shoot a deer, your village will eat for a week.
Category A is elephants. Elephants are tough. Everyone wants one. They’re only in one part of the country. It takes real skill and a long time to develop the strategy and plan the attack to get one. If you shoot an elephant, your village will eat for a month. But if you miss, you’ll starve.

So how does this relate to sales? Because we usually only want the elephant account. We spend all of our time and energy going after this most elusive of prey. So is everyone else! Meanwhile, your plentiful rabbit accounts are always there if you do a good job and get plenty of referrals.

A deer is in the middle. It’s an account you establish a good, strong relationship with. You’re seen as a consultant and you directly help them. They pay you on time because there’s no “red tape”, and you can get directly to the decision makers.

So here’s the big question: why do we waste so much time on “the big gray ones”? It might be ego, or it could be the thrill of the chase. Maybe it’s something else. But here’s the truth: if you only chase elephants, you’ll starve.

So here’s some homework to keep from starving, and to make sure plenty of business is on your table. Take a good look at your accounts and prospects. Categorize them. Who are the elephants? Who are the deer? And who are the rabbits? Once you decide, work your plan. It should consist of 60% deer, 20% elephants and 20% rabbits.

20 million years ago, our ancestors lived or died based on how well they hunted the right opportunities. They had a plan. So how’s yours?