Business tips for small business owners

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Walk, don’t run
“Simplicity it the ultimate sophistication”. Words by Leonardo da Vinci, artist and engineer from the 15th century. And Leonardo was right. As a small business owner, when it comes to creating success in your business, simplicity often is the key. Nowadays, in the 21st century where information moves at warp speed and countless opportunities seem to be thrown at your feet you need to take time to consider, reflect and ponder about everything that crosses your path before jumping into hasty decisions. Especially when availability or access funding is not something you have in abundance.

As a business owner you definitely want to see progress and an increase of your bottom-line, but you need to realize that some things take time and that rushing into every opportunities that arises will eventually lead to complication and confusion.

Good is good enough
Delivering outstanding service to our client is what we always aim for. The reason we do this is because we realize that this kind of service generates more sales, thus more profit. Don’t fall into the trap to just focus on customer service alone. Although the customer is king, we cannot always give them what they want. As small business owners we do everything to satisfy the needs of our customers as long as it doesn’t hurt us. After all, were in business to make money and not just help others.

Set goals, measure and track your progress
As with all ventures you want to see progress, growth of your business. Growth can be established in different ways such as in terms of profit, in terms of number of employees or in terms of your customer base. No matter how you want to measure your growth, one thing is inevitable, you will need to set some goals.   Set realistic goals focused on making small, continuous improvements. Track your goals at least on a monthly basis so you know where you’re standing and what you need to do to get better, if necessary.

Make sure to include your team when setting the goals. Research has shown that most of the companies that fail to reach their goals do so because they don’t include their team members when setting goals. When you don’t include the people who have to help you to reach your goals, it will be difficult to get their commitment.

Stay positive
Every business owner has his own stories about the bumpy ride they had on their way to success. There will be problems with suppliers, with clients, with employees maybe even with getting all your bills paid. Just remember that success can never be achieved without overcoming hurdles. When times get bad, try to be the one positive lighting star for everyone in your company. Don’t be afraid of sharing your troubles and explaining to everyone what their role can be to overcome them. Once your team realizes how important their role is, they will do everything possible to keep the show running.


Marciano S. Lie A Young

to be or not to be… a Politician

For years I’ve had a firm point of view regarding businessmen being active politicians. If you’d asked me, I would’ve said that’s not an ethical combination, because of the conflict of interest that may arise. As a very active citizen I believed that if you want to create positive change, the best way is to stay away from politics, especially those parties who have very egocentric leaders. Unfortunately most of the political leaders are like that; afraid to share leadership, only giving opportunities to loyalists despite their qualities and  tolerating criticism.
Another reason why I always thought business leaders should not be politicians is because of the corruption you often see and hear of and the bad examples of business leaders who use their political power for their own (personal) gain.

My view changed, however, after an 4 hour discussion with a JCI member from Pakistan, while at the 2007 JCI Worldcongress in Turkey.  Anwar Kashif Mumtaz is a tax consultant from Karachi and a 1992 JCI International Vice President. Anwar totally changed the way I looked at politics that way. Not immediately at that same moment, but in the months after that, after I started to look at politics from the view he suggested.
Anwar made me realize that if you really want to be able to create change, you should put yourself into the position where you can really have the impact. Looking from aside and screaming from the top of your longue may get you some attention, but the chance that you really have some impact is very small. To create the positive change we want in our community we need politicians who know how to get things done and who live a live of an active citizen. The last thing we need is people looking at issues from behind a desk and trying to find a solution for the problem of finding a solution without having to get out from their chair (pretty confusing, isn’t it……just read this sentence again :)
So if you really want things to change, you should be part of it, and that goes for political change as well. Ofcourse this is not as easy as it sounds, especially with the kind of political leaders we have nowadays. Unethical behaviour seems to be  the most normal thing for a lot of our political leaders, mostly grey, old men who think that we are still living in the sixties or seventies.

Luckily some political parties are starting to change. More young men and women are getting the chance to show what they are made of, and a lot of us hope that these men and women who will represent us are really made of the best “material”.

And then it comes, the big question that I have to answer by Tuesday, April 6th.
A few days ago I got an email from one of the founders from a small, very progressive political party who aims at giving as much as possible young men and women the opportunity to  play an important role in the development of our country. I knew of the existence of this party, and also read a lot about one of the founders, who is an exemplary and succesful entrepreneur. I like their way of thinking and the plans  (and vision) they have for our country. But I’ve never considered joining them yet, just as I’ve never seriously considered joining any other political party (although some people think otherwise about me).
Anyway I got this email from one of the founders who asked me if I would like to join them and be one of their candidates for the upcoming National Elections of the Parliament. To be very honest, I was very surprised, and the next day I replied that I wasn’t sure if I was interested in becoming a candidate, but I would certainly like a meeting to discuss how they decided to ask me; someone with no political background whatsoever. So I had that meeting, and heard what they had to say.
Interesting, interesting, interesting.

I am now seriously considering to join this party, and will be spending some time reading through the various documents produced by  this party. By tomorrow I am expected to let them know what my decision will be regarding representing the party as candidate for the parliament or not. So the big question is “should I or should I not……….”

Launching my answer 2morrow evening, but before I do, It would be nice to get your feedback on this…