Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Last minute ways to save on taxes

1. Making charitable donations by Dec. 31, can help charities as well as the tax situation of individuals and businesses that are donating.
The state of Michigan offered special tax credits to donations made to certified organizations providing overnight accommodations, food or meals to indigents. This Michigan tax credit, which will be eliminated in 2012, is 50 percent of the contribution — or up to $100 on a single return and up to $200 on a joint return.
These credits also can be combined with any federal tax deduction.
Food banks are at or
2. Donations of unwanted furniture and clothing, should be made to the Salvation Army or other thrift stores by Dec. 31.
3. Homeowners should pay property taxes and mortgage payments so that the funds are  received by Friday, Dec. 30.
4. Homeowners in need of a new appliance such as a refrigerator, dishwasher, washer or dryer should purchase it by Dec. 31, before the tax breaks expire.
5. Self-employed and small-business owners should make business equipment purchases that are needed, by Dec. 31. Small businesses can deduct the costs of qualifying business equipment and software as an expense rather than depreciating that cost over many years.
For more information, visit

Friday, 23 December 2011

Four steps for profit in 2012

During research for a recently released book, Let Go to Grow; why some businesses thrive and others fail to reach their potential (Palari Publishing, 2011), the authors spoke with more than 100 small and midsize business owners. They discovered that it is possible to have a profitable, growing business in this economy, but you need to be willing to take a close look at how you are managing your business.

  1. Adventure is just bad planning. Have you had enough of the rollercoaster, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants method?  Try planning instead, there is a simple three-step process.  First, you have to set written goals. What do you want to achieve in 2012?  It seems like such a simple question, but many business people go year after year without ever deciding exactly what they want to achieve.  Amazingly, these business owners are often surprised when results are disappointing. What are your revenue goals?  What profit percentages do you want and need to make?  Do you want to expand operations or launch a new product line?  Commit your specific goals to writing.

Second, develop a plan to achieve your business objectives. What do you need to do differently in 2012 to meet these goals?  Map out a step-by-step process that will result in achieving the goals you set.  The plan should consist of a clear set of action items, completion dates and the name of the one person responsible for each action step. When more than one person is responsible, no one is accountable.  Resist the temptation to assign more than one person to any single action step.

Finally, execute your plan and review progress periodically. These reviews must be scheduled and they must be a priority.  Executing your plan and holding people accountable for results is very important, but it may not be considered urgent.  Without discipline, the urgent will always overtake the important.  Don t fall into this trap.

   2. Start with good people. It has become a cliche to say that our people are our greatest asset.  While perhaps cliche, it is also true.  You need good people with great skills to serve your customers and/or make your products. One hurdle we see small business people struggle with is acting on difficult employee issues.  These can include underperformance, poor attitudes and mismatched skills.  It is especially difficult when a loyal employee can no longer perform well because the job has outgrown his or her abilities.  We have seen entrepreneurs reluctant to remove or layer a long-term employee, or worse, a family member or friend who is struggling to perform in a job to which they are not well suited.  The situation is bad for all concerned.  The employer, the employee and customers suffer. 

In 2012, first review your goals and action steps.  Next, imagine the roles, skills sets, behaviors and cognitive capabilities you will need to achieve your goals successfully. Finally, take a hard look at the individuals on your team.  Be brutally honest when you consider whether they have or could reasonably acquire the skills and other attributes necessary to help you complete your plan.  If not, you will need to make some difficult decisions.  

Don't delay.  We have never heard anyone say,  I think I fired Mary too soon.  I should have given her several more chances. On the other hand, we have often heard small business people lament,  I wasted so much time giving Mary chance after chance. Why did I wait so long to make that change? You need good people to execute your plan. You must help your folks develop the skills they need or get folks that already have them.

   3. Don't fall into the insanity trap. You have probably heard the quote that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. The truth is that poor processes breed poor results and the results won't change until the processes are improved.  If you want to do things faster, at a lower cost, and with better quality in 2012 you will need to develop better processes.

The first step is to document your existing processes.  Write them down.  It's not sexy and no one is going to pay you an extra nickel because you have documented processes, but this is the only way to ensure consistency across the organization and it's the only way to launch a process improvement initiative. You can't improve a process until there is agreement on how things are currently done.

Once processes are documented, look for ways to streamline the operation. Can waiting time be removed?  Generally, this is where most of the opportunity lies. Can steps currently performed in series be done in parallel? Can steps be eliminated altogether because they are simply unnecessary? Is it possible to automate pieces of the operation?  Answering these questions will help you identify ways to do things more quickly and at a lower cost.

Finally, when a problem arises, first fix the immediate situation. Make it right for the customer. This has to be the priority.  But, your work isn't done when the customer is satisfied. Don't miss the opportunity to fix the underlying cause. Ask the question, what do we have to do to ensure that this problem never happens again?  Fixing the root cause of the problem will improve quality in the future.

   4. Measure more than once. When we begin working with an entrepreneur one of the first things we do is review their financials and other metrics. Frequently, we notice two opportunities for improvement: the financial statements can be enhanced to enable more effective management decision making and metrics other than financial statements can be developed.

First, for management decision making, financial statements should generally be prepared on an accrual basis rather than on a cash basis (small businesses may well choose the cash method for taxes). The reason is that accrual accounting does a better job of matching expenses with the revenue they generated. Second, P&Ls that simply have revenue, a number of cost categories and a bottom line profit are generally less useful for management decision making than they could be. It is often useful to separate the cost of delivering a product or service from overhead. Third, if the company has managers that are responsible for expenses and/or revenue, the specific areas of responsibility for each manager should be broken out separately. This allows clear accountability. Finally, to be useful for management decision making, financial statements must be completed in a timely manner.  Many small businesses go months without producing financials. This is a huge mistake because problems can go unnoticed.  At most, the books should be closed within two weeks of the end of the month.

When a business reaches the size that the owner can no longer be involved in every transaction, additional metrics, beyond financial statements, will be required. When the owner isn't involved in every transaction, he or she can't possibly know everything that is going on in the business. By the time problems turn up in the financial statements, it can be too late.  Consider a business that ships products to customers. If shipments start to go out late, this will eventually show up in the financials in the form of lower revenue because customers have become frustrated and taken their business elsewhere. Unfortunately, the damage is done. The customers are gone. What's needed is a metric that alerts the owner to late shipments while there is still time to correct the problem.

Doug and Polly White are Principals at Whitestone Partners; a management-consulting firm that helps small businesses build the infrastructure they need to grow profitably. They are also coauthors of the groundbreaking new book, Let Go to GROW; why some businesses thrive and others fail to reach their potential (Palari Publishing 2011). The book explains how entrepreneurs can avoid the most common pitfalls as their businesses grow and is available at

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Season's Greetings

Happy holidays from the team at Azox. We would like thank all of our partners and customers for your business in 2011 and wish you a terrific holiday season and a prosperous 2012. We look forward to exciting new announcements and updates in 2012, as our e-commerce solution, eSource, will be updated early next year.

Once again the entire Azox team thanks you and wishes you, your family and friends a happy holidays and joyous New Year. We truly appreciate working with you and we wish you the best this holiday.


Your Friends at Azox

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Savoir Fare's E-Commerce Site is Up

Azox is pleased to have launched Savoir Fare's shopping website for Clarke Distribution Corporation. This website provides a dynamic interface to Microsoft Dynamics GP and allows pricing and description changes to be placed in Dynamics GP while being updated instantly on the website. This allows for a complete integrated solution with reduced data management and greater visibility across different business channels.

Check out all the best tools for your kitchen at Whether it's cutlery, glassware, bakeware or cookware you can find the products that can help create legendary fine dining experience for your home at Savoir Fare. While you're there read some of their special recipes for chilli, pumpkin soup, chocolate heathbar cookies, cajun shrimp and more.

Top Features
  • Recipes Page - Find some great recipe ideas and buy associated kitchen tools that can help create those recipe ideas.
  • Gift Ideas Page - Get some great gift ideas for that special occasion.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Staying in the Money: 11 things for good cash flow

Hoboken, NJ (December 2011)— “If a business is earning a profit, many business managers simply assume that cash flow is satisfactory. But even if profit is good, cash flow can be bad.”
Cash flows pose an unending challenge to business owners and managers because they have to be carefully managed. Here are 11 things to do to for good cash flow:
1. Respect and understand financial statements. According to some surveys, 25 percent of businesses don’t even maintain accounting records (let alone produce financial statements).
“The bottom line for small business owners is simple,” says Tracy. “If you don’t make an effort to prepare, review, and completely understand your financial statements, then you need to ask yourself why you’re in business in the first place. And this especially holds true for the statement of cash flows, because an abundance of invaluable information is available from this most commonly overlooked and mismanaged financial statement.”
2. Plan, do projections, and plan some more. Proper planning is essential to the launch, growth, management, and ultimate success of your business as measured by the ability to generate profits and, just as important, to avoid running out of cash. According to Tracy, “Having access to sound financial plans structured for different operating scenarios is an absolute must.”
3. Focus on capital and cash—the lifeblood of your business. One of the most common reasons small businesses fail is that they lack adequate cash or capital, not only to survive difficult times, but also to prosper during growth opportunities.
“Remember, one of the greatest losses a small business can realize is that of lost opportunity, which has its roots in not being prepared to properly capitalize on market opportunities,” explains Tracy. “The harsh reality is that this great loss is never accounted for or presented in any way, shape, or form on the business’s financial statements. Rather, missed market and business opportunities lurk in the torturous thought, Imagine what I could have achieved!”
4. Understand your selling cycle. The length of the complete selling cycle is often much longer than the aspiring entrepreneur projects and/or wants to believe.
“The selling cycle in its entirety spans the time from the very start of the process when a product or service is first visualized and developed to supporting customers after the sale and developing additional products or services that may be in demand,” says Tracy. “And if not properly managed, the selling cycle generally becomes one of the largest consumers of cash in a business. Without fail, almost every aspiring business owner, at one point or another, will experience delays in the selling cycle.”
5. Manage your disbursements cycle. To counteract the selling cycle cash consumption machine, businesses need to understand that the disbursement cycle (managing expenditures and cash payments to vendors, employees, and other creditors) can be leveraged and managed to be a primary source of cash for your business.
“Invoke what’s called the matching principle,” advises Tracy. “That is, similar to properly matching revenue and expenses to ensure that an accurate measurement of a business’s profit or loss is obtained, you should be able to match cash inflows and outflows.”
6. Be creative to generate cash. The following three areas offer significant opportunities for creativity when looking to improve cash flows:
Turn your assets over more quickly. The more quickly you can turn over assets, the more quickly they turn into cash. It’s as simple as that.
7. Leverage your vendors, suppliers, and financing sources. They don’t want to lose your business, so placing just the right amount of leverage on these groups can result in enhanced cash flows because liabilities offer a source of cash.
8. Manage external sources of cash proactively. Proactively manage your relationships with banks, leasing companies, and even the federal government to ensure that cash is made available when needed.
9. Balance the balance sheet. Many businesses overlook the concept of properly managing the financial structure of their balance sheet, which has gotten more than a few businesses in trouble.
“Your business needs to strike a proper balance between making sure that current assets are financed or supported with current liabilities,” notes Tracy, “and making sure that long-term assets are financed or supported with long-term sources of capital such as a five-year note payable or equity. Every business should strive to achieve a financial condition that ensures constant maintenance of adequate levels of both solvency—the ability to pay all just debts—and liquidity—the ability to quickly access cash to support business operations.”
10. Understand external capital markets. When it comes to external capital markets, think well ahead. In today’s economic climate, it takes a long time to identify external sources of capital and to secure them. So plan well ahead to make sure that you’ll have cash available when needed, because it’s not a process you can rush.
11. Protect cash at all times. Cash has a unique characteristic unlike other assets that makes it highly susceptible to additional risk of loss: Cash is an extremely liquid and marketable asset.
Always think of CART. CART equals complete, accurate, reliable, and timely. Your company’s financial and accounting information system needs to produce complete, accurate, reliable, and timely financial information, reports, data, and so on, which management can use to make informed business decisions.
 “When you have the proper systems in place and know what to look for, you can keep cash flowing, helping you to grow a successful business,” says Tracy. “Let 2012 be the year you place a renewed focus on properly managing your cash flows.”

About the Authors:
Tage C. Tracy is principal owner of TMK & Associates, an accounting, financial, and strategic business planning consulting firm. John A. Tracy is professor of accounting at the University of Colorado in Boulder and the author of Accounting For Dummies.

About the Book:
Cash Flow For Dummies (Wiley, 2011, ISBN: 978-1-1180-1850-7, $26.99) is available at bookstores nationwide, major online booksellers, or directly from the publisher by calling 877-762-2974.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Why it's smart to implement a workplace smartphone policy

With the National Transportation Safety Board urging all 50 states and Washington D.C. to ban the use of all cellphones while driving, including hands-free devices, what implications does this have for employers? 

Six Reasons It’s Not Just About Talking Behind the Wheel AnymoreWhen the BlackBerry was introduced in 2002, people began conducting business from anywhere. That led to an increase of lawsuits in which employers incurred significant liability for accidents caused by employees talking on a cell phone while driving. To avoid that liability, employers began implementing and enforcing policies defining when and how employees may use a cell phone for work while they are driving.
Pepper Hamilton LLP labor and employment attorney Robert C. Ludolph notes, “If an employee had a car accident while talking on a cell phone, those policies helped employers establish that they were not vicariously liable, because the employee was not carrying out their job duties by talking on the phone, and/or that the employer wasn’t negligent by permitting their employees to use a cell phone while driving.”
But “smartphones” now dominate the market, and their functions encompass text messaging, e-mail, Internet access, media players, cameras and gaming. Ludolph says, “Smartphones have infiltrated almost every aspect of our lives, including our work lives. So implementing a workplace smartphone policy that goes above and beyond any original policies that covered just phone conversations, is more important now than ever.”
Ludolph recommends the following considerations for employers revising their phone policies or drafting one for the first time:
1. Accident Prevention/Risk Avoidance - If a policy was necessary to minimize employer risks associated with talking on a cell phone while driving, consider that using text messaging and other smartphone functions today is even more dangerous. A recent study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute revealed that a driver texting while operating a heavy vehicle increases the chance of an accident by 23 times! If your company doesn’t already address this risk, implement a policy prohibiting the use of smartphones and other hand-held devices while driving.
2. Smartphone Etiquette - How many meetings have you attended in which someone is constantly looking at or reaching for a smartphone? It may be acceptable in an internal firm meeting to monitor smartphone activity for important messages that require prompt attention. “But, if an employee is preoccupied with a smartphone while meeting with a client, the client could be offended – and could decide to become a former client,” Ludolph says. So employers should consider a policy that addresses when an employee can and cannot use a smartphone in any work setting, not just when driving.
3. Record Keeping - While texting for business purposes may be quick and efficient, one drawback is the inability to file or archive the texts. “Deleted texts are difficult, and sometimes impossible, to retrieve. A smartphone policy should address how a record of the text communications will be stored so that, if necessary, the communications can be retrieved,” Ludolph notes. “Such a policy will also assist in refuting a false claim that a text had been sent.”
4. Company Property/No Expectation of Privacy - A smartphone policy should also state that any communications sent on employer-distributed smartphones (or other electronic devices) are company property, that the employee should not expect that those communications are private, and that the communications are subject to review by the employer. The policy should also emphasize that the employer owns the smartphone’s telephone number. This will minimize invasion of privacy claims and prevent a departing employee from later using the number to unfairly solicit the employer’s customers, Ludolph adds.
5. “Textual” Harassment - The use of smartphones at work has already bred litigation in response to a new trend – “textual harassment.” For example, an intern filed a lawsuit in 2010 against her former supervisor claiming he sent texts that created a “raunchy, intimidating and sexualized work environment.” Because of this, a smartphone policy should emphasize that any activity on a smartphone is subject to the company’s anti-harassment policies, including the sexual harassment policy. The anti-harassment policies should also be revised to state that inappropriate text messages or other inappropriate uses of a smartphone may be considered a form of harassment and will not be tolerated.
6. Productivity - Surveys have shown that employees typically waste two hours per day at work, excluding their lunch break – and this does not include time spent on a smartphone. Smartphones now have most of the capabilities of a desktop computer, including the ability to access the Internet. “Thus, in addition to addressing how and when an employee is permitted to use a smartphone, a smartphone policy should also state that the use of smartphones is subject to the employer’s social media, Internet and other computer-related policies,” says Ludolph. “If an employer doesn’t have such policies, it should strongly consider adopting them.”

“Complete insulation from liability can never be guaranteed,” Ludolph says. “But a well-written and well-enforced smartphone policy will do much toward preventing liability in a number of different areas and improving employee performance and productivity that could be jeopardized if smartphones are abused.”
Ludolph concludes that it is essential, however, that employees be trained on the smartphone policy: “Indeed, a policy that employees don’t understand or, worse yet, are not aware of, is useless and perhaps unenforceable.”

Submitted by Megan Hanks, Buchanan Public Relations LLC,
For information, visit

Thursday, 15 December 2011

O'Keeffe's New Consumer Site is Live!

We are glad to have recently launched O'Keeffe's B2C website. O'Keeffe's is a leading skin therapy company and offers a unique formula of moisturizing ingredients that are guaranteed to improve dry and cracked skin.

O'Keeffe's natural creams offer guaranteed relief for hands and feet. Best of all their creams are odorless, oil-free, non-greasy and hypoallergenic.Check their brand new shopping site out here.

Top Features
  • Shopping Meter - See how close you are to qualifying for free shipping, with a meter that changes dynamically.
  • Robust Branding - Web store branding that compliments the look and feel of the rest of the site.

* Visit the site to receive free shipping on orders over $20.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Free White Paper: The Case for Offering Integrated Online Bill Payment Services to Customers

More and more people are comfortable with and willing to pay their bills online. Learn how offering online invoice payment to your customers can help increase your cash flow and lower the cost of bill reconciliation for you and the customer by filling out the form on this page.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Business networking events set this week

Southfield chamber hosts brunch Wednesday
Southfield Area Chamber of Commerce will host its 1st Annual Holiday Brunch 9 to 11 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 14, Regency Manor, 25228 West 12 Mile Road, Southfield. It will feature Colin McConnell, president of BizMatch Connect. The cost is $10 for chamber members and $15 for non members. Visit or call 248-557-6661 or email

Social Media is a Party in Detroit on Thursday
Social Media is a Party is hosting a panel discussion, “How We Can Create a Thriving Future for Detroit.” It starts with registration at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 15 at The Red Grape Lounge in The Kresge Building, 1201 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Featured panelists include: Karen Dumas, Former Chief of Communications & External Affairs for the City of Detroit; Toby Barlow, Executive Creative Director at Team Detroit; Rabbi Jason Miller, Rabbi at Congregation T’chiyah and Phillip Cooley, Owner of Slows Bar BQ. The night includes an charity showcase, twitter games and giveaways, silent auction and mixer. The event is free to attend. Donations are requested of warm clothing, hygiene products and nonperishable food items to be distributed to Social Good Detroit which benefits Christ Child House, Crossroads of Michigan, Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Burners Without Borders Detroit or to the charity of donor’s choice. Visit for a list of acceptable donations. Register at

Oakland County holds business planning workshop, Thursday
Fundamentals of Writing A Business Plan is 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15 at Oakland County Business Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford Township. The cost is $40 per person. To register, contact Karen Deaver-Lear at 248-858-0783 or
Automation Alley Blood Drive is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19 at Automation Alley Headquarters, 2675 Bellingham Drive, Troy. To schedule an appointment, visit and enter sponsor code: autoalley or call Anna at 313-549-7058. Walk-ins will also be accepted.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Reuters expands training for aspiring journalists globally

 Reuters announced the global expansion of its prestigious Journalism Trainee Program, an initiative designed to support the future of journalism by providing opportunities for aspiring journalists around the world. For more than fifty years, this program has brought Reuters first-rate journalists, some of whom are running its newsrooms today.
Beginning in 2012, Reuters will expand its nine-month London-based training program to include New York and Asia. University graduates, working journalists and other professionals wanting to move into journalism can apply for the highly competitive program that involves hands-on training in the classroom and on the newsroom floor. Trainees who meet Reuters rigorous standards will be placed in staff jobs and assigned mentors to guide their careers at the company.
”We are reinvesting in journalism through this highly competitive training program and, at the same time, strengthening our position as an industry leader,” said Stephen Adler, Reuters editor-in-chief. ”While other news organizations have discontinued similar efforts, Reuters has more than doubled the size of its program. This year, we are proud to offer 15 jobs for trainees who successfully complete the program.”
Active recruitment across universities and top journalism schools is underway to find exceptional talent committed to journalistic excellence. Applicants should exhibit a passion for news, a competitive instinct, and speak and write fluently in English. Advanced skills in other languages, financial and data expertise, and multimedia will be given special consideration.
Applicants can apply at, and click on careers  until December 31, 2011.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Could You Live Abroad and Keep Your Job?

Expert Reveals Secrets of ‘Extreme Telecommuting’
You don’t have to tell Barry Frangipane that the Internet has made the world a little smaller.
Frangipane, a software engineer, was used to telecommuting from his home in Tampa Bay, but he didn’t realize how far telecommuting could reach until he read Under the Tuscan Sun, a book about an American who chucked it all to live in Italy.
“The key about Under the Tuscan Sun was that they had a ton of money,” said Frangipane, author of The Venice Experiment (, a memoir that chronicles their year living in Europe while he telecommuted to his software job in the states. “Shoot, anyone could move to a foreign country with a ton of money. We wanted to see if a typical middle-class couple could do it, with a job. We looked at the realities of it, and theorized it could work. On the downside, my wife Debbie wouldn’t be able to keep her job, as she did not telecommute. On the upside, we could sell both cars and eliminate the monthly tab for two car payments and the associated insurance. Further, we both prided ourselves on being great cooks, so we’d be able to experiment with European dishes in our own kitchen – in Europe!”
They settled on Venice, and lived 13 months, sending emails to their friends about their experiences. Those emails served as the inspiration for the book. Through their experience, they devised the following tips on how others could make an American living while living abroad.
• Telecommuting – The changes over the past 10 years for telecommuters have been subtle, but together they have produced a tipping point making the idea of extreme telecommuting a reality.  Advances in the quality of videoconferencing make meetings as effective as they would be in person.  Google and Facebook have both launched free high quality videoconferencing in the past year. I was gone for 13 months, and most of my clients never even knew I had left.
• Housing – Accept the fact the living quarters are a little smaller, and a little older. American housing, like just about everything else in America, is big compared to the rest of the civilized world. Having said that, you’ll wind up spending your non-work time seeing sights and exploring your new hometown.
• Cars – Choose a place in which travel by car is not necessary. In Venice, everything is connected by the small tributaries and waterways that thread through the city. Most everything you need – shopping, groceries, business services – was a brisk walk or gondola ride away.
• Cook – You could spend a small fortune eating in the tourist trap restaurants, or you could buy fresh groceries every day and live as the locals do, creating your own meals and stopping by the smaller, lesser known eateries and cafes frequented by the locals.
“For those of us who telecommute to work, we can now live out our dreams, and live most anywhere in the world,” Frangipane said. “And I have heard all the excuses, with people saying, ‘I can’t just up and move to another country.’ Well, ask yourself. Do you have any real concrete reasons you can’t go? Or is it just that you’re afraid you might like it too much?”

About Barry Frangipane
Barry Frangipane is an author and blogger from Florida.  His first book, The Venice Experiment, was published in August, 2011. The son of middle-class Italian immigrants, Barry has lived in Venice, Italy, Paris, France, and Boulder, Colorado.  Barry has been a software engineer for more than 30 years. He has two children, Stephanie and Amber, and currently lives in Tampa, Florida, pending his next adventure.

Submitted by Ginny Grimsley
National Print Campaign Manager

News and Experts

Clearwater, Florida


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Real Property Management moves to Troy

Real Property Management North Metro is at 2265 Livernois, Suite 900, Troy. For information, call 248-808-6550 or visit Serving Oakland and Macomb counties.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Speed Networking for Real Estate Investors

Exchange information with other investors, contractors and other professionals. Sponsored by Real Estate Investors Assoc. of Oakland, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday Dec.8 at Club Venetian, 29310 John R. Road, north of 12 Mile Rd on John R., Madison Heights. Seminar is free to members. $20 nonmembers. Visit or call 800-747-6742.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The Murphy House of Pontiac Holiday Trunk Sale

The Murphy House Bed & Breakfast is hosting a Holiday Trunk Show 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, featuring Gaylotta P. Murray from Stella & dot. Light refreshments, beautiful fashion accessories, and tour of The Murphy House B&B, located at 28 Franklin Blvd., Pontiac.
For questions, email or call Pat at 248-318-9795.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Inventors Council of Mid-Michigan meets in Flushing

The Inventors Council of Mid-Michigan, (ICMMP) Meeting is 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday Dec. 8 at The Town Office in Flushing, Michigan. (Directions below)  The evening features a tour of the facilities and programs offered to start inventors and entrepreneurs at the Town Office locations.
There will be a presentation by Chris Moultrup and Heather Fortin of the Mid Michigan Innovation Center and Blue Water Angels (Investment Group) from Midland.
There will be a holiday get together following the regular meeting with pizza, salads, soft drinks, and dessert.
For information, contact Michael Ball, president of Inventors Council of Mid-Michigan at 810-245-5599 or 

Directions to The Town Office in Flushing
From Flint & North:  Take the Pierson road exit west  off I-75. Go west on Pierson (apx 2 1/2 miles) to where it ends at Flushing Road. Take a right on Flushing road and follow it into the city (aprox. 2 miles). When you get into town, drive through the first traffic light (Cherry Street). The Town Office is on the north side, second to the last building. 103 E. Main St. (which is still Flushing Road)  Parking is on the street or turn right at the second light and park in the municipal lot behind the buildings. There is an entrance from the municipal lot into TheTownOffice. 

From Lansing & West:  Take the M-13, Saginaw exit (#123) from I-69 north. Drive North through Lennon and one additional mile to Corunna Road. Turn East on Corunna road and travel 3 miles to Seymour Road (traffic light).  Turn North on Seymour and travel 4 miles to Main Street. (Party store and Flushing Train Depot on the corner). Turn right (only direction available) and travel 3 blocks to the first traffic light. Turn left and park in the municipal parking lot on the right. There is an entrance to TheTownOffice from the municiple lot.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Black Friday, Cyber Monday Online Sales Up!

The holiday shopping season is officially upon us, and did it ever start with a bang this year. comScore reported that e-commerce spending jumped 26 percent on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, compared with last year's Black Friday. Online retailers offered deep discounts and promotions to rake in $816 million for one day, up from $648 million last year. More than 50 million Americans reportedly visited online retail sites on Black Friday, up 25 percent from a year ago according to comScore.

Not only were Black Friday sales up, but Cyber Monday sales were up significantly over last year at 33 percent higher. More and more shoppers are turning towards online stores, due to convenience and ability to compare numerous sites effortlessly to find the cheapest price.

Enjoy some comic relief with our video that pokes fun at Black Friday and its pitfalls like long lines, angry people and getting up early. See why it's a good idea for retailers to offer their customers an online shopping alternative to avoid the mess of shopping on Black Friday and simultaneously expand their sales channels and reach more customers. View our Black Friday video by clicking the image below.

Tips for attending business holiday parties

by Doug Brown of ASTI Environmental of Brighton.I would like to share  some helpful tips on how to attend a Business Holiday Party and what pitfalls to avoid.  I am a bit of an expert as I have broken just about every rule I will cite:
Notice the first word in Business Holiday Party is Business. Your goal is to get a business opportunity not "win the party."

1. Leave the cellphone/Droid/iPad/Blackberry/iPad/iPhone/iMac/.
2. Bring your own name badge. Yes this sounds a little weird, but if the adhesive or clamp on the back of your name badge has ever ruined your clothes you know what I mean. Your name sloppily handwritten with a heavy black sharpie does not make a good first impression either.
3. My mom always said to stay away from religion, cars and politics when trying to be a good conversationalist and my mother was always right.  Quoting Rush Limbaugh or Rachel Maddow will not win you many friends.
4. Watch the drinks — no one does business with the life of the party they are merely amused by them. If it's cocktails only, drink ginger ale or club soda and let 'em wonder what's really in your glass.
5. Unless you are Will Ferrell don't try to be funny — you are at a business meeting trying to make a professional connection that can help grow your business.
6. Arrive early/leave early. The host (or your desired target) will be accessible early in the evening and you will have access to a decision-maker before it gets crowded.
7. Forget what your mother told you and talk to strangers. Engage the first person you make eye contact with in a conversation and see where it takes you. Their is nothing worse than hovering around "Mr./Ms. Big" waiting to lay your witty line on them along with everyone else.
8. As for eye contact, don't let your eyes wander around the room looking for a "better" contact — have the courtesy to give your undivided attention.  Excuse yourself politely if the conversation is strained or they are not a suitable target for business.
9. Be a good listener — people are often more impressed and will open up when you pay attention to what they have to say (feign attention if they are boring the bejesus out of you).
10. If an opportunity presents itself, wait until your conversation ends then find a quiet place to write down as many details from your conversation as you can on the back of the individual's business card or a index card, yes it sounds crazy but it works. If you do not recap the conversation at that moment you will mess it up the next morning when you try to reconstruct the conversation.
While you are at it try to write down the folks you chatted with even if you didn't get their business card.
11. Drop all contacts a hand written note (not an email) the next day and include your business card (assume they lost it or "mistakenly" pitched it).

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Holidays may not be slow for jobs

Plante Moran Director of Recruiting notes uptick in hiring trends for its professional practices             
“The Holidays are Not a Slow Time for Job Offers”

Southfield - Plante Moran, the nation’s 12th largest public accounting and business advisory firm, is seeing an uptick in hiring, according to Paula Frerichs, the firm’s director of recruiting.
“We are seeing increased hiring needs at Plante Moran and hearing about growing employment demands from peer firms as well. This corresponds with recent national statistics pegging unemployment among accounting professionals at only 3.5 percent,” notes Frerichs.
Plante Moran has 135 firm-wide accounting, tax and management consulting interns and entry-level staff, hired from on-campus spring and fall recruiting, scheduled to begin in January 2012. This is not a record number according to Frerichs but is closer to peak recruitment levels than recent years. From an experienced hire perspective, the firm openings are at a three year high and Frerichs senses a positive employment trend overall. She adds that there are several opportunities in the specialized management consulting fields, in addition to the more traditional audit and tax roles. 
“The majority of our open positions are for experienced personnel with highly specialized knowledge in niche accounting, finance and consulting areas,” offers Frerichs. “These openings are the result of continued firm growth and new or expanded areas of business expertise that are seeing demand increase nationally; they include technology, strategy, enterprise risk and investments.” 
Heading into the holiday season, Frerichs debunks the myth that companies don’t hire over the holidays.
“For companies in active hiring mode, recruiting doesn’t take a holiday. The only difference may be a longer lapse between acceptance of the offer and the actual start date. Most December hires do not come on board until the new year,” explains Frerichs.

About Plante Moran, PLLC
Plante Moran is among the nation’s largest certified public accounting and business advisory firms, providing clients with tax, audit, risk management, financial, technology, business consulting, and wealth management services.  Plante Moran has a staff of more than 1,600 professionals in 21 offices throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois, with international offices in Shanghai, China; Monterrey, Mexico and Mumbai, India.  Plante Moran has been recognized by a number of organizations, including FORTUNE magazine, as one of the country’s best places to work. For more information, visit

Submitted by Barbara Fornasiero
EAFocus, Inc.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Photos from GPUG Summit 2011

We had a great time seeing you at the GPUG event at Caesar's Palace. We are glad to have seen so many great partners and customers attend the GPUG Summit this past week. Click below to view our photo album from the event.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Landing a job at 50 and up

 If you're over 50 and job hunting, you know that it can be particularly tough sledding, and you need a thick hide.
Here are five key steps for snagging a potential employer's interest and landing an interview. They come from Tucker Mays and Bob Sloane, who are the principals of OptiMarket, an executive job search coaching firm.

They also are co-authors of the book, Fired at 50: How to Overcome the Greatest Executive Job Search Challenge.

   1. Address the age issue and don't be defensive. Offer examples in your career history that reinforce your “agelessness" by offering examples of your ability to solve problems, manage people, exercise good judgment and offer leadership.
   2. Show you are flexible. Describe how you have modified your approach to fit different challenges and varied business cultures. Talk about the times you've had to adjust to changing priorities, make quick decisions with limited information, produce with fewer resources, and manage individuals on a team that did not report to you.
   3. Cite your success working for a younger boss. Talk about times when you enabled a younger boss or bosses to succeed, grow and advance their careers. You will be less likely to be considered a threat when you demonstrate that you respect authority and are committed to advancing the career of younger supervisors -- as well as advancing your own career.
   4. Be flexible about pay. Be willing to accept less salary up front in exchange for a greater performance-based bonus and or equity. When asked what your salary requirements are, mention that once you learn more about the job requirements and the company’s full compensation structure (salary, bonus, profit sharing, perks, equity etc) you will be in a better position to answer. Also, say that given your strong interest in the job, you will be flexible and are confident that you will reach an agreement comfortable for both parties.
   5. Demonstrate that you are entrepreneurial. Stress your ability to combine large company experience with small company skills.

From the Michigan Economic Development Corporation

Thursday, 17 November 2011

5 ways to show thanks to your employees during holidays

Foxboro, MA—In a perfect world, we’d all be looking forward to the holiday season without anxiety. Unfortunately, for most employees, that isn’t even close to being the case. Times have been tough, and for several years, workers have been stretched thin as they try to do more with less. They’re feeling discouraged, tired, and perpetually stressed, and to make matters worse, many individuals are worried about the higher-than-usual personal expenses associated with the upcoming holiday season. As an employer, you might want to thank and reward your people for their hard work with a raise or holiday bonus…if only you had the funds.
While you can’t distribute money you don’t have, according to Todd Patkin, you can take decisive steps to make your employees feel happier and more appreciated. And all you have to do is tap into the Thanksgiving spirit.
 “People will never admit it, but money is not the thing they desire most from their work. Instead, showing appreciation, respect, and, yes, even love are the three most important ways to make your people feel great about their work,” points out Patkin, author of the new book "Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In."
 Five of Patkin’s show-the-love strategies that you can use to say “thanks for a job well done!” to any employee, any time…without spending a cent:
1. Writing and sending a thank-you note
is standard practice when you receive a gift. When you notice that an individual has done an excellent job or has achieved an important goal, send a specific handwritten (not typed!) note conveying your most sincere appreciation and admiration.
“When you’re a leader, you’re busy and often overwhelmed,” Patkin acknowledges. “It’s understandable that you might overlook saying the words ‘thank you,’ much less writing them. Remember, though, that positive reinforcement and sincere gratitude will increase the respect your team has for you and will improve their opinion of your entire organization. Also, it will encourage them to likewise say ‘thank you’ more often to their own subordinates within your company.
2. Distribute inspiration. Our society tends to think of work as a place of drudgery, obligation, and boredom, as exemplified in the now-iconic movie Office Space. People certainly don’t think of receiving inspiration and rejuvenation between nine and five. According to Patkin, though, buoying your team’s spirits should be one of your daily goals. If you help them to see the world as a sunnier place and to improve their attitudes and ways of thinking about their entire lives, their professional and personal productivity will increase too.
3. Tell success stories. Even if they brush off praise or downplay their achievements, everybody loves to be recognized and complimented. When someone in your organization has done something great, tell her that you noticed her outstanding work, and tell the rest of the team, too! Whether correctly or incorrectly, many employees feel that their leaders take them for granted and only point out their mistakes, so make it your daily mission to prove that perception wrong.
4. Identify stars. According to Patkin, identifying stars is taking the concept behind telling success stories to the next level. Yes, recognize achievements whenever you see them, but also make celebrating your stars a regular event. Sure, some team members will roll their eyes at “Employee of the Week/Month” programs, but you can rest assured that no one is going to turn down this honor. “Instead of singling out just one person, you might even consider recognizing multiple individuals every month,” Patkin suggests.
5. Make it a family affair. Whenever possible, engage your employees’ families when praising them. Having a leader validate all the hours each team member spends at work will be remembered far longer than a bonus (really!). Plus, when spouses and kids know what Mom or Dad does at work and are “on board” with it, your employee’s performance will be buoyed by support from the ones he or she loves the most.
“For example, if an employee did something really tremendous, I would call his home, generally trying to get the answering machine and not a person,” Patkin shares. “Then I’d leave a voicemail like this one:

About the Author:
Todd Patkin grew up in Needham, Massachusetts. After graduating from Tufts University, he joined the family business and spent the next eighteen years helping to grow it to new heights. After it was purchased by Advance Auto Parts in 2005, he was free to focus on his main passions: philanthropy and giving back to the community, spending time with family and friends, and helping more people learn how to be happy. Todd lives with his wonderful wife, Yadira, their amazing son, Josh, and two great dogs, Tucker and Hunter.

About the Book:
Finding Happiness: One Man’s Quest to Beat Depression and Anxiety and—Finally—Let the Sunshine In (StepWise Press, 2011, ISBN: 978-0-9658261-9-8, $19.95, is available at bookstores nationwide, from major online booksellers, and at

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Oakland County chambers come together, Nov. 30

The Troy Chamber of Commerce is hosting a county-wide chamber networking event, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30 at Tre Monti Ristorante, 1695 E. Big Beaver Road in Troy. The event, sponsored by Paesano Akkashian, P.C., includes appetizers/cash bar. The cost is $10 for members of Oakland County chambers and $25 for non-members. For reservations, call 248-641-8151, email or

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Top Ten Fundraising Tips

by Darian Rodriguez Heyman, former executive director of the Craigslist Foundation. He will speak at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, at Nonprofit Enterprise at Work Inc. (NEW), Get Connected event in Detroit. 

1. How to get your board involved in fundraising:  Stage a board member thank-a-thon.Tons of nonprofits experience frustration with getting their boards to fundraise; in  fact, it’s the second biggest reasons why executive directors  leave their posts according to CompassPoint’s “Daring to Lead” study. Any easy way to give board members a chance to dip their toes in the waters of donor engagement is staging a thank-athon. The key is to make it easy for board members to participate, and to help them understand that fundraising is much more than making an ask. This will also help to improve relationships with your donors, who will be delighted to receive a thank you call without an attached ask.

2.  How to increase your chances of getting a grant: Never apply for a grant without contacting the foundation first
As much as you might want to believe that grants are awarded simply due to the fit of the program and the excellence of the application, it simply isn’t true. In fact in our experience the odds of getting a grant that you send in without contacting the foundation are about 5-10%. Just as in individual (and all!) fundraising, developing relationships is critical. Program officers care deeply about the work they are funding and consider it an advantage to be able to scope out potential grantees.

3. How to secure a donation: Make specific and direct asks for moneyPeople give because they are asked –- if you don’t ask, the answer will always be “no.” It can be tough to look someone in the eyes and ask for money, but somewhere in your pitch, some variation of the words, “I’d like to invite you to invest $100 in our work” need to find their place, ideally followed by as long a pause as it takes to get an answer.  Ask with pride for the cause you are so committed to raising money for, and be honored to be the potential bridge for that donor from need to impact -- donation to solution.

4. How to build loyal, happy donors: Map donations to impactPeople don’t give to you because you have needs; they give to you because you meet needs. Donors and prospects don’t want to hear about the woes of the economy or your organizational struggles — no one wants to join a sinking ship. Instead, they want to know exactly where their donation will go, or has gone, and what impact your work is having on their community and the issues they care about. Use the power of personal stories to demonstrate how critical and important their support is to your work. Emphasize impact and stories in all your communications with donors, both in person and in your written materials.

AFP National Philanthropy Day Dinner is 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17 at Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center – Renaissance Ballroom 400 Renaissance Dr., Detroit.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) 20th annual dinner to recognize award recipients for exceptional philanthropic contributions and commitment to enhancing Southeastern Michigan. 

Detroit4Detroit is a movement of Detroit citizens, each committed to leading a critical community project in Detroit. Every project is 100% Detroit and defined by the needs of Detroit. Over the next year, Detroit4Detroit will bring 150 passionate Detroit citizens together and give them the tools and support to mobilize their friends, family, and social networks to complete 150 high-impact community projects. Detroit4Detroit is currently looking for five non-profit partners to provide these projects.
Partners need to be registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits who have been working within the city limits of Detroit for at least three years. For information, visit

For more information, visit Nonprofit Enterprise at Work Inc.

(These tips are excerpts from handbook edited by Heyman:  Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals).

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Auburn Hills chamber seeks nominations for awards

The Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce will join with local business leaders to celebrate 20 years of community engagement with an awards dinner at Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Lake Orion 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1. As a part of this event, the Auburn Hills Chamber is currently accepting nominations for six awards including:
Blue Cross Blue Shield Business of the Year Award- Honoring a business of any size that has demonstrated substantial growth, prosperity, distinctiveness or leadership this year.
Employee of the Year Award- Celebrating the best and brightest in the community; demonstrated through hard work, accomplishment and contribution.
OU INC and the School of Engineering and Computer Science Innovator of the Year Award- Provide the best example of innovation among the membership as expressed through cutting-edge technology or creative processes, systems or products.
Crittenton Hospital Best in Community Award- Recognize the organization that has contributed the most to the Auburn Hills community.
Legacy Award- Open to one of our 20-year members, honoring their long-term support and contribution to the Auburn Hills Chamber of Chamber.
Ambassador of the Year Award- honoring a part of our own ambassador team who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to better represent their company and the chamber.
Nominations will be accepted through Thursday, Nov. 10. Self-nominations are welcome. Sponsorship opportunities are available.
To register, visit or call the Chamber at 248-853-7862. Tickets are $45 for members and $60 for non-members.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Panel discusses joint ventures, Tuesday

Association for Corporate Growth Detroit Chapter will host a meeting on the pros and cons of joint ventures, 7 to 9 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 8 at Glen Oaks Golf Club, 30500 W. Thirteen Mile Road, Farmington Hills. A panel of experts, including Bob Coury, managing director, Deloitte Corporate Finance, LLC. will provide real world experiences in organizing domestic and international joint ventures. The cost is $25 for Corporate Growth members and $45 for guests. The cost includes a hot breakfast. To register, contact Sharon Kimble at 877-894-2754 or visit

Building customer loyalty
A seminar titled “How to Measure & Build Customer Loyalty” will be presented by Robert Carlstedt, President of Birch International Ltd. 6:30 p.m. Tuesday Nov. 8 at Rochester First Assembly of God, 4435 North Rochester Road, Rochester. The seminar is free and includes a pizza and soft drink meal. For information, call 248 652-3353 ext 322. Visit

Friday, 4 November 2011

Visit Azox at GPUG Summit 2011 in Las Vegas

Azox will be at GPUG Summit 2011 in Caesars Palace in Vegas from November 7 – 11. Visit us at Rock-N-Rave Booth #516, where members of our team will be exhibiting. Giuseppe Ianni of Azox is also scheduled to deliver a session on best practices for payment processing online and within Dynamics GP. Join his hosted session on Thursday, November 11th at 8:00 a.m. in Room Forum 13 and learn:
  • How to apply payments to SOP orders/invoices in Dynamics GP
  • How PCI compliance standards affect merchants and those accepting payments online
  • How to accept payment transactions across multiple sales channels, call centers and e-commerce stores
  • Importance of using PA-DSS payment processing solutions and tokenization
If you are attending Summit 2011 we are offering a special promotion for attendees. Azox software will be 20% off until December 16, 2011 for GPUG 2011 attendees.

Also, don't forget that Rock-N-Rave will be throwing a party on November 9th at 7:00 p.m. There will be a DJ, Karaoke, Elvis, Showgirls and a magician. Stop by the Rock-N-Rave Booth #516 and pick up your party invite.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Helpful business workshops held in Troy

Nov. 8: Sales seminar
Automation Alley hosts a sales seminar called "Fill your pipeline, feed your success," 8:30 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8 at Automation Alley Headquarters, 2675 Bellingham, Troy. The cost is $20 in advance and $30 at the door $30 for members. It is $40 in advance and $50 at the door for nonmembers. Call 800-427-5100 or visit

Nov. 16: Writing press releases
A workshop on writing effective press releases presented by Matt Friedman of Tanner Friedman Strategic Communications is 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16 at Automation Alley Headquarters, 2675 Bellingham, Troy. Call 800-427-5100 or visit

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Upcoming business events

Nov. 2: Social media

A workshop to help businesses, nonprofit organizations and individuals develop social media programs is 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Nov. 2 at Vogel Social Media, 1500 N. Stephenson Highway, Suite 235, Royal Oak. Eric Vogel, president of Vogel Social Media, and Colin McConnell, president of Biz Match Connect will conduct the workshop's three sessions. The first will be an overview of social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. It will be followed by two detailed sessions on how to use Facebook and LinkedIn. Refreshments will be served. The fee for the workshop is $60. Register in advance at or call 248-562-7685 or at the door.

Nov. 2: Walsh College president to speak at Influential Women

 Stephanie Bergeron President and CEO, Walsh College will be the featured guest speaker for the Influential Women Series is 7:30 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 2, at The Community House, 380 South Bates Street, Birmingham. Her topic is “Shifting gears from ‘car guy’ to college president: Recognize the signs on your career road—and enjoy the ride!” Influential Women is sponsored by Raymond James & Associates. The series is open to the public. The event charge is $16 in advance, $20 at the door, and includes a light breakfast. For reservations, call The Community House at 248-644-5832, or visit

Nov. 3: Chamber holiday extravaganza

The Women’s Business Forum of the Troy Chamber presents its annual Simply Shopping event at The Somerset Collection, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3. Start the day on the north side where you can drop off donations of clean, gently-used business attire for charity. This year, men and women’s professional clothing will be accepted by Jackets for Jobs, Inc. (a Michigan WORKS! affiliate). The cost to attend is $50 per shopper. As a part of the morning program, attendees will receive valet parking, breakfast and fashion presentation—all compliments of Nordstrom. Each shopper will also receive a Simply Shopping signature bag, free gift-wrapping compliments of Somerset Collection, discounts/giveaways throughout the day, and 4 to 6 p.m. networking, prizes & hors d’oeuvres in the South Rotunda. To register, call 248-641-8151 or e-mail:

Nov. 3: Luncheon awards

Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce Annual Community Awards Luncheon is noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3 at Prestwick Village Golf Club, 136 Inverness, Highland. The cost is $20 per person. Reservations are required, call 248-685-7129.

Nov. 3: Pre-business research

Pre-Business Research is 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3 at Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, Building 41 West, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford Township. The workshop is free. Register at 248-858-0783 or visit

Nov. 4: Turkey drive

The Michigan Homeland Security Consortium is accepting donations to support the Michigan State Police's efforts to provide Thanksgiving turkeys to families in need, throughout Michigan. Each CST will present turkey certificates to families in need within the communities they serve. They are accepting donations at the next Lunch & Learn event, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4, in which the police will be conducting a special robotics demonstration. at Altair Engineering, 1820 E. Big Beaver Road, Troy. Visit 

Nov. 8: Sales seminar

Automation Alley hosts a sales seminar called Fill your pipeline, feed your success, 8:30 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8 at Automation Alley Headquarters, 2675 Bellingham, Troy. The cost is $20 in advance and $30 at the door $30 for members. It is $40 in advance and $50 at the door for nonmembers. Call 800-427-5100 or visit

Nov. 10: UHY LLP hosts manufacturing outlook discussion

UHY LLP, a leading certified public accounting firm providing professional services to domestic and international companies, is hosting its Manufacturing Outlook 2012, 8:15 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 10 at 27725 Stansbury Blvd., Suite 100 in Farmington Hills. The forecast will also be available via live webcast beginning at 8:35 a.m. EST. Attendees will learn how the current economic landscape impacts the outlook for manufacturing companies in a variety of key sectors.

Azox Launches New Mobile Store for PRO Sports Club

With mobile sales increasing, and expected to reach $119 billion in 2015, more companies are looking toward mobile as the next big sales channel. Azox is pleased to have launched a new mobile optimized e-commerce site for PRO Sports Club’s 20/20 LifeStyles weight management program. PRO Sports Clubs 20/20 BeWell mobile store allows registered users to purchase health oriented products that help them live healthier lives in accordance with their weight loss programs. The branding of the site is completely revamped and browsing is made simpler, with easier navigation that is more intuitive for mobile users. The mobile site offers the same integrated functionality to Microsoft Dynamics GP as a standard website, even allowing coupon codes to be applied at checkout. Whether someone is browsing on an iPhone, iPad, Android device, Blackberry or a Windows Phone, the mobile site will display in a way that makes shopping more friendly for mobile users.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Gap between employer needs and applicant skills

 Downers Grove, IL—More than 14 million Americans are looking for work, yet 3.1 million jobs remain unfilled because hiring managers at top U.S. companies are unable to find qualified candidates, according to a recent study by the Career Advisory Board, established in 2010 by DeVry University of New York,
There will be a live blog chat on new research and actionable advice for job seekers on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 10:00 AM CST. Career Advisory Board member, author and speaker, Jason Seiden, will offer insights on the Job Preparedness Indicator and its implications for succeeding in the job search. Visit to participate.
 The Job Preparedness Indicator assessed the value of key skills to determine what attributes employers consider most important but are least common among job seekers. Nearly 550 hiring managers at top U.S. companies and more than 730 job seekers were surveyed. Key findings include:

Many job seekers are overconfident and do not display skills that are important to hiring managers.
72 percent of job seekers are very confident or confident they know what qualifications are required for employment
Only 14 percent of hiring managers say job seekers have had the skills their company looks for in a potential employee
There is a striking difference between the skills most important to hiring managers and the skills job seekers portray to hiring managers.
For example, 70 percent of hiring managers picked interviewing skills as a top 5 important factor in finding a job, compared to just 54 percent of job seekers
Managerial candidates are most out of sync with employers’ needs.
Hiring managers report they rarely see three out of the top five skills required at this level
Managerial candidates are describing themselves in terms most important to hiring managers for entry level positions, automatically taking them out of the running

To view a full report. visit

Strategies to Improve Job Search Success
Career Advisory Board member and business and workplace consultant, Alexandra Levit, recommends gaining valuable experience and improving workplace competencies to succeed.
Levit offers the following strategies to help job candidates improve their marketability:
Demonstrate a mastery of critical skills. Before diving into a job search, it’s important to take a step back and examine your capabilities from the perspective of a hiring manager:
Think about the job and how your qualifications meet the specific needs of the position, and identify areas where you can illustrate quantifiable results
If entering a new field, create a skills-based resume that highlights specific capabilities relevant for the job  
 Increase repertoire of capabilities. To obtain valuable and relevant experience, take ownership of your development by looking for opportunities to improve your core competencies and learning those skill sets that are valued by employers.

If you are unemployed:
Seek an internship or volunteer opportunity to gain critical real-world knowledge and expand your professional network
Clearly demonstrate your proficiency of these newly-acquired skills to your prospective employer and explain how they can be transferred to the workplace

If you are employed:
Take advantage of corporate training programs to improve communication skills and problem-solving abilities
Pursue stretch assignments that will challenge you to learn and grow in your field                            
Develop a personal brand. A strong and memorable personal brand that captures the attention of prospective employers on social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, will set you apart from the competition.
Identify your unique talents, what you are passionate about and the type of expertise you can bring to employers
Ensure that your social media profile and in-person networking reflects your personal brand while fostering relationships through alumni and peer-to-peer networks
Seek mentorship. Developing a mentoring relationship will help you build a foundation and set the pace for your career. Mentors can help you learn about a realistic career path and what it takes to succeed.
Build a mentoring relationship with a person who works in a similar or related field – both online and offline
Find mentors through professional organizations, alumni associations and non-profit organizations

For more information on the Job Preparedness Indicator at Submitted by Sean McCarthy, MSL Chicago,

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Local attorney pens book, 'Blood & Money'

Most laymen believe that greed is at the heart of family blood fights over an inheritance, but attorney and author P. Mark Accettura – expert on inheritance conflict resolution and elder abuse – says it is a myth that selfish motives are the driving force behind family blood baths after a parent has died.“The fight for money and things, such as Dad’s watch or Mom’s wedding ring, is not about the object or money itself, but is really about what the money or object symbolizes – importance, love, security, self-esteem, connectedness and immortality,” says Accettura whose conclusions are based on three decades in the legal trenches aided by five years of research in social psychology, evolutionary psychology, psychiatry, gerontology, and neuropsychology.

That life experience and research culminated with the August 2011 release of Blood & Money: Why Families Fight Over Inheritance and What to Do About It (ISBN 978-0-9669278-4-9, Collinwood Press, Farmington Hills, MI, 2011, 283 pages, $21.95).

Blood & Money not only details the psychological reasons why families fight but provides practical legal remedies to prevent such blood-letting disputes after Mom or Dad die. The author’s fourth book offers an unprecedented understanding of family dynamics as applied to estate planning.
Accettura offers some 60 specific recommendations to help parents, offspring, and their advisors prevent inheritance squabbles and preserve the most valuable legacy of all – the family itself. The concluding chapter outlines appropriate legal remedies to minimize the damage caused by bad actors and toxic wills.
Whenever a spouse dies and the surviving spouse remarries, Accettura stresses it is critical for a new will and trust to be drawn to protect the interests of the new spouse and the natural children. “When a remarried parent is negligent and does not draw up a new will and trust,” says Accettura, then the blood is on the parent’s hands for not taking care of the business necessary to keep peace in the family after death.”
The author says the role of an estate planning attorney when family members are fighting is to serve as a counselor and find a means to resolve the inheritance conflict. “An attorney must be sincere, transparent, honest and fair but most of all be a peacemaker,” adds Accettura. “The goal is to resolve the family conflict, not to identify a breach of responsibility or breach of law and file a lawsuit which will serve to heighten the conflict rather than producing family peace.”
Peter Lichtenberg, PhD of the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University, Detroit, says that “Blood & Money takes a multidisciplinary approach to inheritance disputes. It explains the psychological reasons that families fight, why dementia opens the door to foul play, and the legal implications of bad behavior…it will no doubt be a reference for years to come.”
Accettura said he was inspired to write Blood & Money because of an increase in elder abuse, because of the growing epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease, because 65 percent of Americans fail to plan for their death, and to uncover the reasons why families fight at the death of a loved one.
In Blood & Money, the author explores the impact of dysfunctional families and personality disorders on inheritance disputes and contrasts the toxic, bitter battles involving super-rich personages such as Leona Helmsley, Summer Redstone and Brooke Astor with the conspicuously philanthropic such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

P. Mark Accettura has practiced law in the firm of Accettura and Hurwitz in Farmington Hills and Royal Oak since 1982. As senior partner of a large and thriving estate planning and elder law practice, he has handled the wills and trusts of thousands of people in Michigan. For five years, Accettura hosted LawTalk, a regular television series seen via cable in 37 cities in Michigan. Besides Blood & Money, Accettura has written Medicaid and Long Term Care in Michigan (2005), The Michigan Estate Planning Guide (2002) and Lost and Found: Finding Self-Reliance after the Death of a Spouse (2001).

Submitted by Scott Lorenz, President of Westwind Communications,

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Professional job fair is Oct. 27 is sponsoring the Empowering Michigan Job Fair, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, October 27 at the Holiday Inn Hotel, 17123 North Laurel Park Drive in Livonia. The following local companies will be ready to interview and discuss hiring opportunities:
Delta Connection - Hiring Flight Attendants
Hallite Seals
Rainbow Rehabilitation
Harvey Industries
JP Morgan Chase Mortgage
Citigroup Mortgage
Harley-Davidson - Hiring Engineers
George Johnson & Company
Proper Group International
Trinity Transportation
Sears Home Improvement

The Livonia Michigan Job Fair event is free to the public and will offer attendees an opportunity to visit with business representatives about job openings. Businesses interested in registering for a booth should contact at 734-956-4550. Additional expo information is available at or call 734-956-4550.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Business events this week

Oct. 25: Women seminar
Women, Money & Power Seminar is 5:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 25
at Leon & Lulu Lifestyle Shop, 96 W. 14 Mile Road, Clawson. An opportunity to shop and learn your financial personality. The event is free, light refreshments will be served. To register, email or call 248-312-5815.

Oct. 25: Marketing & Sales Executives of Detroit gala
Scott Monty, manager of global and multimedia communications for Ford Motor Company, will be the first recipient of the Marketing & Sales Executives of Detroit’s (MSED) new Trailblazer award at the organization’s annual Black-Tie Gala to be held  Oct. 25 at The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham. Proceeds from this event benefit scholarships, educational seminars and charitable contributions. Tickets for the black-tie event cost $150 for MSED members, $195 for non-members. The price includes an elegant cocktail reception, dinner and afterglow reception. For information, call 248-643-6590 or visit

Oct. 25-27: Battery show
The Battery Show is Oct. 25-27 at the Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River Ave., Novi. The show offers conferences on battery business models and technologies and a 160-booth exhibition with the latest battery technologies for electric vehicles, utility storage, mobile power, personal electronics and health care applications. It is free to attend, visit to register.

Oct. 26
“Reimagining Detroit: The Role of Philanthropy Changing Detroit,” presented by Rip Rapson, president and CEO, The Kresge Foundation is 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26 at The Community House, 380 South Bates Street, Birmingham. The event is free. To register, contact 248-644-5832, or visit

Oct. 27: Getting to NO
The Troy Chamber of Commerce continues its Fall Educational Series, 8 to 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, with a session titled, “Getting to NO.” The event will be held at the Troy Chamber office, lower level training room 4555 Investment Dr. Troy.

Oct. 27: Area chambers host annual Bulls Eye! Right on Target
The Waterford Area Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Clarkston, Auburn Hills and Pontiac Regional Chamber will host the 5th Annual Bulls Eye! Right on TargetSmall Business Conference, 8:15 a.m. to noon Oct. 27 at Oakland Schools, 2111 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township. The speaker line-up includes Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Gerard van Grinsven - President & CEO of Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, Tim Green - President of the Referral Institute and Terry Bean - Author and founder of Motor City Connect. The half-day conference, sponsored by HAP, Comcast, Safety Technology, YourSource Management Group and The Oakland Press, includes breakfast and networking. Table exhibit space is available. Call 248-666-8600. Attendees can register at and the Pontiac, Auburn Hills or Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce. The cost before Oct. 16 is $40. Afterward, it is $75.

Oct. 27: Fundamentals of Marketing Your Business
Oakland County Business Center offers the Fundamentals of Marketing Your Business, 9 a.m. to noon, Thursday, Oct. 27 at Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, Building 41 West, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford Township. The cost is $40. Register at 248-858-0783 or visit

Oct. 28: Michigan procurement process
DTMB- Purchasing Operations presents Elements of a Quality Proposal, a seminar providing businesses an overview of the Michigan procurement process, and information to help increase their chances of submitting a quality bid when trying to win a state contract. 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28 at Cadillac Place Building, Room L-150, 3044 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit. The Small Business Administration, VetBiz Central, Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center and the MEDC Pure Michigan Business Connect will be represented. The event is free, register at or call 517-335-6633.

Oct. 29: Walsh College Leadership Awards
Walsh College Leadership Awards Dinner is Saturday, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 29 at Royal Park Hotel, 600 East University Dr., Rochester. The event includes a cocktail reception and silent auction, followed by dinner, award presentations, and a dessert afterglow. Huel Perkins of WJBK-FOX Detroit will be the emcee for the evening. Michael Brennan, President & CEO of United Way for Southeastern Michigan, receiving The Jeffery W. Barry Award for Educational Excellence & Community Service. The 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award will be awarded to Paul Glantz, MST ’84, President of Emagine Entertainment; and President & CEO of Proctor Financial. The 2011 Distinguished Graduate of the Last Decade Award will be awarded to Stephanie Baron, MBA ’10, Communications Manager, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Tickets are $250. For information, call Amber Kaipio at 248-823-1261 or visit

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Job fairs set for engineering job seekers

Engineering jobseekers can attend the Engineering Society of Detroit’s 2011 Fall Engineering and Technology Job Fair, 2 to 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24 at Suburban Collection Showplace, 46100 Grand River Ave. in Novi. Visit
The Empowering Michigan Job Fair, is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Livonia. It will feature careers from the following fields: retail, engineering, information technology, healthcare, sales, automotive, manufacturing, technical, banking/finance, machining, robotics, wireless technology, management, call center and customer service.
The Economic Development Authority of St. Clair County is hosting a Regional Job Fair is 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4 at the M-TEC Building in Port Huron. Visit

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Business success with social media events

Oct. 19: Social media strategies
Automation Alley is hosting “Case Studies: Integrating Social Media with Your Business Strategies,” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19 at Automation Alley Headquarters, at 2675 Bellingham, in Troy. Presented by Automation Alley’s Business Growth Committee, this event will feature presentations by Janet Tyler, president of Airfoil Public Relations, and Microsoft Senior Public Relations Manager Amy Messano. The event begins at 11:30 a.m., followed by the presentation at noon and question and answer. The cost for members is $20 with pre-registration or $30 at the door. The cost for non-members is $40 with pre-registration or $50 at the door. There is no cost for foundation members. Call 1-800-427-5100 or email

Oct. 20: Social media for business
The Social Media Navigation Guide For Small Business owners and individuals is 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Community House, 380 South Bates Street, Birmingham. For the big picture of social media and how stops such as blogging, social bookmarking, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, as well as niche profiles, instructor Emily A. Hay, the owner of Emily A. Hay There, a Social Media Consulting Company, will share social media insight and best practices. To register, contact, 248-644-5832, or visit The cost is $34.

Oct. 20: Constant Contact event
Constant Contact is hosting a special free event for small businesses and nonprofits in Detroit, "Empowering Small Business with Online Marketing" beginning at 9 a.m. Oct. 20 at Cobo Hall, 1 Washington Blvd., Detroit. There is a $10 parking fee. For information, visit www.empoweringdetroit.com10

Area chambers host annual small business conference

The Waterford Area Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Clarkston, Auburn Hills and Pontiac Regional Chamber will host the 5th Annual Bulls Eye! Right on Target Small Business Conference, 8:15 a.m. to noon Oct. 27 at Oakland Schools, 2111 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township.
The speaker line-up includes Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Gerard van Grinsven - President & CEO of Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital, Tim Green - President of the Referral Institute and Terry Bean - Author and founder of Motor City Connect.
Patterson will present the welcome address. van Grinsven will share how his philosophy of employee and customer engagement helps outperform the competition. He has opened 20 Ritz-Carlton hotels worldwide. 
The half-day conference, sponsored by HAP, Comcast, Safety Technology, YourSource Management Group and The Oakland Press, will include the speakers, breakfast and networking. Table exhibit space is available. Call 248-666-8600. Attendees can register at and the Pontiac, Auburn Hills or Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce. The cost before Oct. 16 is $40. Afterward, it is $75.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Business calendar

 Oct. 17: Inforum panel
Inforum and Inforum Center for Leadership will host a panel to boost the number of women on Michigan’s corporate boards to create a competitive edge. The event, “Claiming Corporate Leadership: Michigan Women’s Leadership Index and the Future of Our State,” is noon to 1:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17. at the Westin Hotel, 1500 Town Center, Southfield. Tickets for Inforum members is $50; and for nonmembers, it is $65. To register, visit

Oct. 18: Insurance coverage
“Crash Course in Insurance Coverage” will be presented by Instructor Jody Lipton, a personal injury attorney, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18. There is no charge, RSVP requested. To register, contact The Community House, 380 South Bates Street, Birmingham. Call 248-644-5832 or visit

Oct. 18: Sales workshop
Sales Mastery from the Top Down is 8:30 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18 at Automation Alley, 2675 Bellingham Dr., Troy. This workshop is for owners, managers and team leaders focused on realizing organization-wide results. Call 1-800-427-5100 or visit

Oct. 18: Entrepreneur lecture
Alan Haase, president and CEO of AGC Composites Group and AGC Aerospace & Defense, will speak in the Entrepreneurial Lecture Series at 5:45 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18, at Lear Auditorium (T429) of the University Technology and Learning Center at Lawrence Technological University, 21000 W. 10 Mile, Southfield. The event is free and features Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Oaktree Increases Revenue by 40% within Six Months with E-Commerce Solutions from Azox

Oaktree Products, Inc., a leading multi-line distributor of audiology and hearing aid supplies, accessories and equipment offers more than 4,200 different products. They needed a way to implement an online solution that enabled online ordering, streamlined checkout and order tracking, easy content management and a solution that could integrate to their ERP accounting system.

Read the full case study here and learn how Azox e-commerce solution was able to increase Oaktree's revenue by 40%, improve client feedback and reduce labor from manually entering orders from the website into their ERP system.