Saturday, 30 March 2013

5 resolutions for your business

Submitted by Ginny Grimsley of News and Experts

Almost on a daily basis, news reports detail the marketplace factors that can affect businesses large and small. No matter what the potentially game-changing info coming out of Washington, D.C., or China, though, there are winning strategies that not only endure but should be part of every workplace’s culture, says financial expert and small-business advocate Chris Hurn.
“With some merit, analysts are always reviewing contingencies that may change investments by businesses; most recently, the ‘fiscal cliff.’ But there are many ways to invest in your own business regardless of the economic climate,” says Hurn, author of “The Entrepreneur’s Secret to Creating Wealth: How the Smartest Business Owners Build Their Fortunes” www.TheEntrepreneursSecretBook.com.
Hurn reviews the resolutions business owners and entrepreneurs should consider to make 2013 the most positively transformative year:
Consider buying: After a business has survived three to six years and is stable, commercial property ownership is a natural next step with benefits that new entrepreneurs often overlook, says Hurn. Ownership is a path to more stability and long-term wealth, and the government program administered by the Small Business Administration – SBA 504 – offers long-term financing at below-market fixed rates.
Self-investment:
Often in business, one measure of strength reflects your strength of character, so invest in yourself! Identify business books that focus on areas you need to develop or lessons shared by successful business people you admire. Commit to reading at least one per month.
Company culture:
Your company’s culture has a lot to do with your success. Come up with three ideas that will improve your company’s culture and take action on them. Improved health, the most universal resolution, can have a profoundly positive impact on the workplace, from boosting morale to increasing productivity.Refresh/jumpstart marketing: Identify three new marketing initiatives that you can implement on a regular and ongoing basis. Start small and track which ideas seem to have teeth. Remember — repetition and consistency are keys here.
Become an authority in your field:
Research publications in your industry and pitch yourself as a media source. This can net you some free PR later in the year. The key is to focus on media outlets – become a familiar name so they can turn to you as a reliable source. You have to convince contacts that you know your stuff and that you’re available to comment when there’s news to report. If you simply don’t have time for this, consider using the services of a reasonably-priced PR firm.


Chris Hurn is CEO and co-founder of Mercantile Capital Corp. based in Orlando, Fla. He is also the CEO, chairman and co-founder of an upscale men’s barbershop franchise called Kennedy’s All-American Barber Club.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Seminar shows the patenting process

Sterling Heights — A seminar encouraging potential inventors to patent their ideas is planned in celebration of the new patent office in Detroit. The seminar,  "Get Out of the Garage: Patent Your Idea!" will be presented 3 to 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 2 at the Velocity Collaboration Center, 6633 Eighteen Mile Road in Sterling Heights. The Macomb-OU INCubator, the City of Sterling Heights Economic Development and Macomb County Planning and Economic Development are hosting the event which is free and open to the public. Attendees of this seminar will learn: whether their ideas are worthy of patents; at what point they should take steps to protect them and about services are available to help them through the patenting process.
Register by contacting Joan Carleton at 586-884-9324 or e-mailing to macinc@oakland.edu.
For more information, visit the incubator website at oakland.edu/macombouinc.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Another Microsoft Convergence Has Come and Gone


Our 11th year as a Microsoft Convergence Bronze Sponsor wrapped up successfully. With a turnout of over 11,500 at this year’s event, we were able to meet with many existing customers and had the pleasure of shaking hands with a lot of new faces.

Azox product enhancements went over well with many expressing interest in our new offerings. If you didn't attend Convergence or missed stopping by our booth, this year we announced the launch of the latest version of our ecommerce engine, which is eSource 3.4. We also announced integration of our credit card processing solution with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics AX along with integration of our online bill pay product with Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics AX. Further, Azox e-commerce solution is now available in bundled packages with SPLA pricing. For more information, contact our sales team today.

This year’s Convergence drew in more than 11,500 attendees. This year’s opening keynote was Kirill Tatarinov, President of Microsoft Business Solutions, who spoke about the future of the company. Some highlights from the keynote include Microsoft’s acquisition of Netbreeze, which is social monitoring tool, probable launch dates of several product updates and their cloud computing strategy for the future.

The Sales Team at our Booth. (Left to Right: Jim Ward, Rob Cook, Giuseppe Ianni)

Azox was also a repeat sponsor of this year’s Rock-N-Raveparty that was held at The Bourbon Cowboy and Beach on Bourbon on New Orleans famous Bourbon St. This year was the 20th celebration and we made sure it was a hit! There were LED party favors everywhere, a mechanical bull, live music and a photo booth. The party had a great turnout and went over well with all our valued partners and customers.

LED Flashing Rings - One of Many Light-Up Props at the Party

Getting back to the office this week was a bit of a reality check, especially for us Michiganders who were greeted Monday morning with snow. But, overall it was a great experience and we are excited to move forward this year with our new product lines. For anyone who missed out on sessions or the keynotes, checkout Virtual Convergence.

Convergence 2014 will be held March 4-7 in Atlanta, Ga. Let the countdown begin!

Women in Leadership to celebrate women’s influence

The Oakland County Employment Diversity Council is hosting Women in Leadership Summit 2013 – The Influence of Women, Our Voices. The summit is 8:30 a.m. to noon, Thursday, March 28 at Oakland Schools Conference Center, 2111 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford Township. The event will keynote speaker Ellen Hill Zeringue, VP of Marketing at the Detroit Tigers. Hear her inspiring story of succeeding in a traditionally male-dominated workplace. The event includes a facilitated power networking session and diverse panel of professional women from a variety of industries. Tickets are $45 each. For more information, visit www.ocedc.net.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Business broker offers tips for selling a business

Roger Murphy, president, founder and CEO of Murphy Business & Financial Corporation of Clearwater, FL provides advice for baby boomers on preparing to sell their business prior to putting it on the market.

By Roger Murphy
 
Approximately 700,000 to 800,000 small to mid size businesses change hands each year.There are many steps business owners need to consider before hanging up their boots. As a seller it is important to consider the following when planning an exit strategy.

When is the best time to sell 
Timing is everything
When you're on top, the company is doing well and the industry is flourishing, and next year looks even better 
Decide when to sell, timing is important but sometimes it is not in the sellers control 
Cyclical factors are important
For example, in retail most revenue is earned in 4th quarter. Thus, it is recommended that you aim to sell your business in the 1st quarter of the following year to show good revenue and the inventory is at lowest point. 

What to do to get ready 
Organize the books and records 
Deal with any customer/vendor/employee issues prior to sale 
Try to increase revenues, increasing sales important to buyer, they analyze trends 
Diversify customer base, spread to as many possible customers
Customer concentration is a risky issue for buyers, and their lenders
Adjust inventory to a normal level
Eliminate unproductive employees, 
Collect past due accounts receivable
Other smaller items: update website, renew leases, clean the premises

De-emphasize owners' personal role in the business
Not being the only decision maker 
Getting others involved in customer contact, and vendor contact 
Develop a management team or a right-hand person 
Build infrastructure and reduce dependence on owner 
Reduce number of family members working in the business, especially if they will be leaving 
Reduce the amount of owner's perks that are paid for by the business 
Don't live out of the business checkbook 
Sell or remove unnecessary or personal assets 

Seller needs to decide
Are you truly ready to sell, can you let go or will that be difficult 
If this a family business, do others depend on the business for their livelihood?
Can they adjust afterward  (sometimes the business defines who you are, it is a significant influence on the sellers personality)? 
Do you still have the drive to build the business or at least maintain the current level of business
Many sellers hang on too long and the business goes downhill due to lack of attention 
Prioritize which items are most important in the sale.
In every business sale there is negotiation where the buyer and seller have some give and take 
Understand which things are not as important and where you can compromise and still get the desired results 
Make sure to analyze what the post sale looks like. Will you have enough money, what will you do with your time?

What matters most to buyers 
Proven verifiable books and records, tax returns 
Reasonable price 
Leverage and terms - they want to use bank financing, owner financing and as little of their own money as possible
Solid, verifiable cash flow
Furniture, fixtures and equipment properly valued and in good condition 
Positive appearance of facility, good reputation  
Favorable lease and lease options 
Training, transition period with the seller 
Covenant not to compete, non solicitation agreement  
Solid reason why the owner wants to sell 
Experienced employees who will stay on  
No last minute surprises

Why is the prospect looking 
It's a buyers' market so a lot of buyers are bottom fishing for low ball offers 
Desire to be own boss, control destiny
Lifestyle - to be in charge of own time 
Financial independence - make money and build an asset with value 
Desire to grow and improve the business they purchase

Who are the buyers 
Individual buyers - 70 percent of all buyers are first time buyers, often displaced corporate employees who will be owner/operators replacing a job 
Strategic buyers - in similar business but not exactly the same, looking to enhance their existing business 
Competitors/vendors/customers - looking for synergies to reduce costs, ability to cross sell to customers, gain market share 
Financial buyers - interested in cash flow, looking for good return on investment, usually with intention to sell at a profit 
Strategic corporate buyers - could be competitors, suppliers or customers 
Buyers look for ways to enhance the business, is there an "upside". They generally think that they can do better than the previous owner. 

Get a proper business valuation done to set the selling price 
Most business owners are not aware of how businesses are valued - they need for a professional to give advice 
Sellers assume value based on emotion or rules of thumb
They overvalue based on how much time and work they put in; and how much it means to them 
Generally they think the value is higher than the market value really is 

Get good advice from a CPA or tax attorney 
The first step before business valuation is to re-cast the financial statements, or normalize them
Most small businesses operate their companies in a manner to minimize taxes-when selling they need to know the true economic value that the business has. This is done by analyzing financials and eliminating all non-operating expenses and discretionary expenses. Determine how much money the new owner will have 
Generally businesses sell for a multiple of what they earn or SDE (Sellers Discretionary Earnings)Another formula is a % of Revenue.  Hard assets are not a driving force in business valuation.Some assets add or subtract from value such as A/R, Inventory, Work in Process
Comparable sales data bases are used to determine market multiples.

Tax considerations
Type of deal structure. Is it an asset sale or stock sale, most are asset sales.
Stock sales usually result in lower tax for seller but has disadvantages to buyer
The allocation of the purchase price is important but often overlooked 
It is not how much you sell for but rather how much you keep that is important 
Many use installment method for part of the sale proceeds if they give seller financing. 
This defers part of proceeds until you receive them.

How to present your business in the best light
Seller needs to be able to articulate a legitimate reason for sale, such as a life event such as retirement, health issues or relocation.
Businesses sell based on the perceived value to the buyer. 
While financial statements are important, they are not the only factor. 
Sellers need to point out other significant items of value in the business and develop a proper offering package. 
Those items could be: long term clients, repeat customers, key employees, outstanding reputation in the community, strategic location.
 To contact Roger Murphy, call or email Sarah Prentice atsprentice@allpointspr.com
847-580-4234 or visit www.murphybusiness.com/

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Great Lakes Angels hosts deal night for investors


Great Lakes Angels, Inc., a nonprofit corporation is hosting March “Madness” Deal night, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 27 at Great Lakes Angels, 568 Woodway Ct., Suite 1, Bloomfield Hills. The three presenting companies are Stkr.it, Carbon Motors and Hoscomm Systems. Stkr.it/ is a company that turns digital memories into scrapbook pages and greeting cards. Carbon Motors/ is developing the CT7 Autonomous Surveillance Vehicle for the global law enforcement market with electric drive propulsion, facial recognition, automatic license plate recognition, gunshot detection, thermal imaging, WMD dirty bomb detection and 360 degree audio and video capability. Hoscomm Systems/ is a physician focused secure mobile communication network business.
The mission is to organize and mentor angels and provide a forum to grow in knowledge and wealth and foster more angel investing. For more information, visit glangels.com/ or email dweaver@glangels.org.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Tips to safeguarding your wealth

Submitted by Ginny Grimsley of News and Experts

Litigation is America’s fastest growing business because plaintiffs have everything to gain and nothing but a few hours’ time to lose, says Hillel Presser, attorney and author of “Financial Self-Defense (Revised Edition),” www.assetprotectionattorneys.com.
“Even if a case seems utterly ridiculous, like the man who struck and killed a teenager with his luxury car and then sued the boy’s family for damage to his bumper, defendants are encouraged to settle. It’s sometimes the only way to avoid potentially astronomical legal fees,” he says.
While it helps to have the assistance of a lawyer who specializes in asset protection, there are many things you can do yourself.
“You shouldn’t have any non-exempt assets in your name,” Presser says. “The goal is to ‘own’ nothing but control everything.”
Presser suggests these resolutions for safeguarding your wealth in the event of a lawsuit:

• Inventory your wealth. Figure out how much assets you really have (most people have more than they think). Take stock of valuable domain names, telephone numbers, intellectual property, potential inheritances, and other liquid and non-liquid assets. That way you can then work on actions to cost effectively keep them safe. 
 • Set your goal. Setting your 2013 asset protection goal is your first step to becoming protected in the New Year! For instance, you could plan to execute an estate plan or set up a trust for your children in 2013. Decide what assets you want to protect in the New Year and a realistic timeline for implementation. Then -- and most importantly -- stick to your plan. Asset protection works only if you follow through. 
 • Protect your home. Find out how much of your home is protected by your state’s homestead laws and then encumber the remaining equity. Encumbering a home’s equity can be accomplished by recording a mortgage against it, re-financing a current mortgage or even taking out a lien of credit using your home as collateral! Another great strategy to protect your home is to transfer its title to a protective entity such as a limited liability company (LLC), trust, limited partnership, etc
• Get everything out of your name. The worst thing you can do as far as exposure is titling all of your assets to your personal name. That doesn’t mean you have to lose control of them – the goal of asset protection is to “own nothing, but control everything.” In 2013, work on moving your assets out of your personal name and into the name of protective entities such as limited liability companies (LLC’s), trusts, limited partnerships, etc. 
• Buy adequate insurance. Protect your loved ones. Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage in the event a job loss, natural disaster, or even a tragic loss of life. Those include -- but are not limited to -- your car, home, and other valuables.

About Hillel L. Presser, Esq., MBA
Hillel L. Presser’s law firm, The Presser Law Firm, P.A., represents individuals and businesses in establishing comprehensive asset protection plans. He is a graduate of Syracuse University’s School of Management and Nova Southeastern University’s law school, and serves on Nova’s President’s Advisory Council. He also serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations for his professional athlete clients. He is a former adjunct faculty member for law at Lynn University. Complimentary copies of his best-selling book, “Financial Self-Defense (Revised Edition)” are available through assetprotectionattorneys.com.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Azox @ Microsoft Convergence 2013 in New Orleans


Convergence is right around the corner, so it’s safe to say that all plans have been finalized and are ready to go, or are at least as ready as they can be! Now we can all relax and start to think about packing and planning what to do each day during the event. For Azox, Convergence 2013 marks our 11th year as a Bronze sponsor. On top of that, this year we have some exciting announcements to make that will hopefully entice all of you! Be sure to stop by our booth, #636, to learn more about what’s new at Azox:
  • Azox Credit Card Extension (CCE) now integrates with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics AX in addition to Microsoft Dynamics GP. This solution provides ACH and credit card processing, transaction management, and tracking. CCE is PA-DSS certified and is compatible with multiple gateways.
  • Online Bill Pay from Azox has new support for Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics AX in addition to Microsoft Dynamics GP. Online Bill Pay provides an interface for customers to pay outstanding invoices on a website while being seamlessly integrated into these Microsoft Dynamics solutions.
  • The latest release of Azox eSource, version 3.4, is here with the addition of product review and guest user checkout features.
  • Azox eSource E-Commerce is now offered in bundled packages with SPLA pricing. These packages provide customers with a complete ecommerce solution upfront.
This year Giuseppe Ianni, Director of Sales at Azox, will be facilitating a roundtable discussion hosted by GPUG. The topic is ecommerce and the discussion will be held Monday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m. For those interested in attending, this and other roundtable discussions will be held in halls B and C in the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The session ID is RTGP03.

And of course, don't forget about Rock-N-Rave, the #1 party at Convergence! This year the event will be held at The Bourbon Cowboy and Beach on Bourbon. Rock-N-Rave is set to take place Wednesday, March 20. Doors open at 9:00 p.m. We hope to see you all there!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Inventors Council to meet March 14

The Inventors Council of Mid-Michigan, gathers on the second Thursday of each month. The next meeting is 7 p.m. Thursday March 14 at Walli's Restaurant & Banquet Center, ( I-69 and Center Road) 1341 S. Center Road, Burton. Admission is $5 for nonmembers, members get in free.
This month's speaker is Elizabeth Garlow, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Michigan Corps of Detroit. michigancorps.org/
 Call 810-621-3468 or email Jim Harris with questions to harris03@charter.net or visit inventorscouncil.org/.


The Inventors Council of Mid-Michigan is a resource for creative people who need ideas on how to take an idea and run with it. As Orville Crain, CEO of Klever Innovations LLC said, "You're not an inventor until you do something with that idea."

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Waterford chamber to host Business & Home Expo

The Waterford Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting one of the largest community expos in Oakland County with more than 100 exhibitors and 1,000 attendees expected. The 6th annual Waterford Area Business & Home Expo is 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 21 at Waterford Mott High School, 1151 Scott Lake Road, Waterford Township. The expo features local businesses products and services and local organizations all under one roof. The event features concessions and raffles. Admission is $1. Free admission tickets are available on the website at www.waterfordchamber.org or at the chamber office. Call 248-666-8600 for booth space.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Grapes & Gathering planned at Fieldstone Winery

The Auburn Hills Chamber is hosting Grapes & Gathering from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 21 at Fieldstone Winery in downtown Rochester. The event, open to members and non-members, features wine tasting, raffle prizes, refreshments and networking. The cost is $25 for members through March 8 and $35 for non-members. The Royal Park Hotel is offering event attendees 15 percent off dinner at the hotel's restaurant, Brookshire, following the event when they mention the Auburn Hills Chamber. Reservations must be made in advance. For more information, or to register, contact the chamber at 248-853-7862 or info@auburnhillschamber.com or visit www.auburnhillschamber.com.

Azox Monthly Webinars: E-Commerce and E-Payment Solutions


Join Azox for one of our informative monthly webinars this March! Each month we host three different webinars, one focused on each of our products, which include e-commerce, secure credit card processing and online bill pay. This month our webinar schedule is as follows:

Thursday, March 7, 2013
11:00 – 11:30 a.m. EST

Azox Online Bill Pay provides your customers with a portal that they are able to log in to and view, print or pay invoices online. This add-on solution allows your business to get paid faster and integrates seamlessly with your Microsoft Dynamics GP back office software.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013
2:00 – 2:30 p.m. EST

Credit Card Extension from Azox makes it possible for a web store to accept ACH and credit card transactions securely online. Through use of tokenization, sensitive data is stored off site, which lessens your business’ liability. Azox Credit Card Extension is also a PA-DSS certified solution. Implementing this add-on will allow you to get more out of your Microsoft Dynamics GP investment.

Thursday, March 28, 2013
12:00 – 12:30 p.m. EST

The e-commerce solution from Azox helps with inventory management; features advanced searching capabilities and provides valuable analytic information about customer shopping and browsing habits. This solution will help you reduce the cost of your online selling operations and improve the overall customer experience. Azox e-commerce solution integrates completely with your Microsoft Dynamics GP back office to provide customers with a secure online shopping environment that allows them to place and track orders, check their account status and pre-print invoices and packing lists.

If you are in the marketing for an e-commerce or e-payment solution, be sure to sign up for one of these webinars to learn more about what Azox has to offer. If these dates don’t fit your schedule, contact us today to setup a demo or watch for next month’s webinars.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

5 tips for innovation

Submitted by Ginny Grimsley of News and Experts

“Napster was a rule-breaking company that paved the way for iTunes and the complete disruption of the music industry. When someone who has no business being in your business comes along and puts you out of business, we call that a ‘Napster Moment.’ And Napster Moments are happening more and more often,” says G. Michael Maddock, coauthor of “Free the Idea Monkey,” (www.freetheideamonkey.com), with Raphael Louis Vitón.
In a recent radio interview, hit maker and former Sony CEO Tommy Mottola (think: Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Beyoncé) said that seasoned record execs saw Napster as a “mosquito unworthy of swatting,” and in hindsight realized that if they had just purchased the company, they would have “beaten iTunes to the punch.”
The lesson? To succeed, company leaders must not only be able to innovate, they must recognize opportunity and ensure they’re poised to seize it.
Maddock offers these tips for getting there:
1. Balancing act: Wherever you find an innovative culture, you will see two primary personalities in leadership: the “Idea Monkeys,” who have no shortage of great ideas but do not have the follow-through to see a project to completion, and the (Ring)leaders, who specialize in execution and managing details. Every great enterprise needs a Yin for a Yang—Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. Ideally, an innovator needs a (Ring)leader at his or her side, and vice versa. Too much of one of these personalities spells disaster for any organization. Is your leadership humble enough to understand this?
2. Outside the jar: There’s a great saying in the South: “You can’t read the label when you’re sitting inside the jar.” If you’ve been at the same company for longer than six months, you’re likely in the jar. You’ll find your response to new ideas is typically, “We’ve tried that and it didn’t work,” or “Yes, but…,” or silence, or even a dumbfounded “huh?” Fortunately, there are several ways to get your head outside the jar: Accept ideas from junior personnel, seek perspectives from different departments, and switch up leadership roles, i.e., have a senior marketer switch from retail to manufacturing for a period of time and, most important, infuse perspective from outside your industry. Diversity is the key to a fresh perspective. Is your expertise killing you?
3. Laughter (more than stress relief): As a response to humor, laughter is uniquely human; as far as we know, no other living thing can laugh. In business, laughter is the antithesis of fear. It is impossible to innovate effectively if you are afraid—nothing kills great ideas like fear. Fun-loving environments where workers are free to laugh are healthy places for creativity. One more thing…if lots of people laugh at an idea, there is usually a meaningful insight there worthy of much deeper exploration. When was the last time you heard your CEO belly laugh?
4. Failing forward: History is filled with people who risked and lost much, yet went on to change the world. From religious leaders to Christopher Columbus to Winston Churchill to today’s budding entrepreneurs, learning how to efficiently experiment and learn is key to innovation success. Does your company embrace risk taking or is it too afraid to fail?
5. Be ruthless: Ultimately, the buck stops with leadership, and managers get the team they deserve. Most well-adjusted people do not like firing employees; however, people stuck in the “victim” mindset are incapable of innovation. Why? Because they are always looking for fault or blame instead of possibility. Do you have a team of creators or do you have a team of victims?
About the author: G. Michael Maddock is the founding partner and CEO of the leading innovation agency Maddock Douglas, which has helped more than 25 percent of Fortune 100 companies invent, brand and launch new products, services and business models. A serial entrepreneur, Maddock has launched four successful businesses and cochairs the Gathering of Titans Entrepreneurial Conclave at MIT. He is a featured columnist for Forbes.