Business Partnerships

May 26, 2015

Overcoming Differences To Remain 
Business Partners and Friends
 
A Shared Goal Can Be Achieved With The Right Outlook, 
Book Co-Authors Say

Good business partnerships can lead to great things, whether it’s Ben and Jerry dishing up ice cream or Penn and Teller dishing up magic.

But sometimes partners aren’t well matched. Their personalities fail to mesh, their differing visions lead to a clash of wills and what seemed like a good idea at the beginning disintegrates quickly in a flurry of angry words and ill will.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. A business partnership – like any relationship – can thrive if the right ingredients are in place.

“You can be friends and business partners at the same time,” says writer Gail Harris (www.gailharrisauthor.com), whose latest project involved a partnership that brought difficult, but not insurmountable, challenges.

Harris is co-author with Brandi Rarus (www.brandirarus.com) of the book “Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman’s Story of Identity, Love and Adoption.” The book tells the story of how Rarus, who became deaf at age 6, faced the challenges of her disability and later adopted a daughter who also is deaf.

Like many good partnerships, the one between Rarus and Harris began because each had something to contribute. Rarus had a story to tell, but she is not a writer.

“I decided to find someone who would work with me to write the book, so I advertised for a writer and Gail was one of the people who responded,” Rarus says. 
About five years passed from the time they began working on “Finding Zoe” to the day the book was published.

Every moment was not smooth, and there were disagreements along the way, but eventually they made their shared dream a reality. Harris and Rarus offer a few tips on what makes a partnership work.

•  Communicate. Communication is paramount in any relationship. It’s what unites us. Communication was a challenge at times for Rarus and Harris because they couldn’t hash things out in a quick phone call the way many people might. “We needed a sign-language interpreter and one wasn’t always available,” Harris says. Video calls were much easier because Harris could see Rarus and the interpreter. They also were able to do some video calls without an interpreter since Rarus is a good lip reader and she can speak, though Harris said it took awhile to get used to the way she talked. “We understood each other about 85 percent of the time. But there definitely were a couple of important miscommunications, once about the book’s front cover design,” Harris says.

•  Be committed. Both people must be committed to the end goal. It doesn’t work if one person is passionate and the other lukewarm. The two co-authors of “Finding Zoe” early on had to work out some differences about just what the end goal was. Rarus saw the proposed book as strictly a story about Zoe’s adoption. But Harris convinced her that the book should be Rarus’ memoir and lead up to the adoption. It was through such give and take that the story, and the book, began to take shape.

•  Avoid being judgmental. We all judge other people and other people judge us. You need to put yourself in the other persons’ shoes – in this case your partner’s – and try to understand what they are going through or where they are coming from. “We live in a world where people are quick to blame and judge others,” Rarus says. That’s actually a theme “Finding Zoe” touches on, showing the fruitlessness of assigning blame, she says. In a partnership, it’s important to try to understand and respect the other person’s point of view, the co-authors say. Having opposing ideas about how some things should be handled is inevitable, and can spark even better solutions. What’s important is to be respectful as you work through disputes.

Whether it’s a disability or personality trait, everyone is different in some way, but those differences need not become obstacles when two people work together for a common goal, Harris and Rarus say.

“Our differences are minuscule compared with how we are alike,” Harris says. “Just look at the way Brandi and I came together to write this book. Language was not a barrier. Different lifestyles were not a barrier. We became friends and worked together to produce something wonderful.”

About Brandi Rarus and Gail Harris

Brandi Rarus (www.brandirarus.com), who lost her hearing at age 6, has traveled the country speaking out for deaf children and building awareness of what it means to be deaf. She was Miss Deaf America in 1988. She and her husband live in Austin, Texas, with their three sons and adopted daughter.

Gail Harris (www.gailharrisauthor.com) is an award-winning writer and teacher of the intuitive process who also adopted a child. In addition to co-writing “Finding Zoe,” she is the author of “Your Heart Knows the Answer.” She lives with her husband and son in Framingham, Mass.

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Americans With Disabilities Act 
Still Important 25 Years Later

Former Miss Deaf America Says Act Helped Tear Down Barriers

The day the Americans With Disabilities Act passed in 1990, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin delivered a speech from the Senate floor in a way most of his colleagues didn’t understand.

Harkin, the bill’s sponsor, used sign language for the benefit of his brother who was deaf and had taught Harkin this lesson: “People should be judged on the basis of their abilities and not on the basis of their disabilities.”

With the country marking the Act’s 25th anniversary, Brandi Rarus, a former Miss Deaf America, remembers how important it was for people with disabilities to make it known they would no longer allow others to set limits on what they could achieve.

“Those of us with disabilities face many barriers,” says Rarus, co-author with Gail Harris of the book “Finding Zoe: A Deaf Woman’s Story of Identity, Love and Adoption.” (www.brandirarus.com)

“Some of those are unavoidable. I can’t listen to the radio as I drive to work in the morning. Often, because of communication barriers, I have to work twice as hard as a hearing person. Instead of taking me five minutes to make a doctor’s appointment, it takes me 10.”

But some barriers are avoidable, Rarus says. And that’s why the Americans With Disabilities Act has played such an important role in people’s lives for the last 25 years.

The ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities when it comes to employment issues. The Act also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for a disability unless it causes an “undue hardship.”

Harris, a professional storyteller and Rarus’ co-author, says that although Rarus is deaf, her life struggles are similar to everyone’s.

“We can all relate to finding our place in the world and fitting in, about self-acceptance, about being judged and judging others, and how we must look past all that to fulfill our dreams,” says Harris. (www.gailharrisauthor.com)

The U.S. Department of Labor says many concerns about the ADA never materialized. According to the department:

•  Complying isn’t expensive. The majority of workers with disabilities do not need accommodations, and for those who do, the cost is usually minimal. In fact, 57 percent of accommodations cost nothing, according to the Job Accommodation Network, a service from the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

•  Lawsuits have not flooded the courts. The majority of ADA employment-related disputes are resolved through informal negotiation or mediation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces the ADA’s employment provisions, investigates the merits of each case and offers alternatives to litigation. The number of ADA employment-related cases represents a tiny percentage of the millions of employers in the U.S.

•  The ADA is rarely misused. If an individual files a complaint under the ADA and does not have a condition that meets its definition of disability, the complaint is dismissed. While claims by people with false or minor conditions may get media attention, the reality is these complaints are usually dismissed.
Rarus, who became deaf at age 6 when she contracted spinal meningitis, was making strides toward success even before the passage of the ADA.

Winning the Miss Deaf America crown in 1988 led to numerous opportunities. She signed the National Anthem at a Chicago Cubs game. She spoke at corporate conferences and traveled the country speaking out for deaf children and building awareness of what it means to be deaf. She was understudy for Marlee Matlin in the play “Children of a Lesser God.”

Her latest project is “Finding Zoe.” The book Rarus and Harris joined forces to write tells the story of Rarus’ early years as she learned to live with being deaf, but the focal point becomes her effort to adopt Zoe, a deaf infant caught in the foster care system.

Harris, upon collaborating with Rarus on her story, was on a mission to help bring it forth, as everyone is deserving of basic human rights. “People don’t realize what the deaf have gone through,” she says.

 Working with Rarus and the anniversary of the ADA have reminded her of the challenges all people face, whether black or white, deaf or hearing, gay or straight.

“It’s how we deal with them that counts,” Harris says. “Brandi’s courage and tenacity can get us thinking about our own vulnerabilities and how they can make us strong.”

About Brandi Rarus and Gail Harris

Brandi Rarus (www.brandirarus.com), who lost her hearing at age 6, has traveled the country speaking out for deaf children and building awareness of what it means to be deaf. She was Miss Deaf America in 1988. She and her husband live in Austin, Texas, with their three sons and adopted daughter.

Gail Harris (www.gailharrisauthor.com) is an award-winning writer and teacher of the intuitive process who also adopted a child. In addition to co-writing “Finding Zoe,” she is the author of “Your Heart Knows the Answer.” She lives with her husband and son in Framingham, Mass.

How Extreme Self-Confidence Can 
End Up Working Against Entrepreneurs

More Introspection Is Needed For Long-Term Business Success, 
Says Former Naval Officer And Business Leader

The entrepreneurial spirit may be taking a hit these days.

Studies show members of the Millennial generation appear less interested than previous generations in starting their own businesses, preferring instead to find work with established companies. In 1989, 11.6 percent of households headed by someone younger than 30 held a stake in or owned a private enterprise; today that percentage is 3.6 percent, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report.

Randy H. Nelson finds that troubling, but perhaps understandable.

“The statistics show the odds of success for a new business are pretty dismal,” says Nelson, author of the Amazon best-selling book “The Second Decision: The Qualified Entrepreneur.” (www.randyhnelson.com/book)

“Half of new U.S. small businesses fail in their first five years, and 70 percent have gone under by year 10. That’s not exactly a new trend, but what is a new is that each year in the United States more businesses now are shutting down than are being started.”

But Nelson, who developed leadership skills as a Navy submarine officer and has a track record of starting and building successful businesses, says there is a reason for those sobering statistics.

Anyone can become an entrepreneur. No qualifications are required. If more entrepreneurs understood the ramifications of that – and took steps to compensate for their weaknesses – the odds of success could improve, Nelson says.

One problem is entrepreneurs tend to be extraordinarily confident, which can blind them to their weaknesses.

Nelson remembers that early in his business career his wife asked if he knew what he was doing. He assured her he did. Since then, experience taught him he was wrong.

“The truth was, I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” Nelson says.

Over time, Nelson became what he calls a “qualified entrepreneur.” He says when he looks back over his 25-year entrepreneurial career that he could clearly identify four components of the qualified entrepreneur, and recently he added the fifth component, self-awareness, which is an important piece of each of the other four.

•  Entrepreneurship. People who become entrepreneurs are usually brimming with self-confidence, Nelson says. That helps them when it comes to making that “first decision” of starting a new company, all but ignoring those sobering odds for failure that would dissuade many others. The entrepreneur optimistically thinks: “I know I can do this.”

•  Career-Long learning. Entrepreneurs think growth all the time for their businesses. They preach their vision to employees and hire the best talent to help them reach their goals. But are entrepreneurs growing their skillsets as fast as their companies grow? If not, they risk becoming the wrong person in the wrong seat, with the very employees they hired to take them to the promised land asking: ”What value do you bring to the company?”

•  Leadership. The importance of good leadership is paramount to business success, but not all leaders are created equal. Nelson breaks down leaders into four types. The “urgent/reactive” leader thrives on an almost crazed atmosphere where he or she can ride to the rescue, put out the fire and move on to the next problem. There isn’t much time for introspection and no real vision. An “ever optimistic” leader starts from the belief there is nothing he or she can’t do. “Yes, we can do that!” is the typical answer from this type of leader…leaving it up to their staff to figure out how, even if accepting the new business takes them away from their core focus.

The “reflexively pessimistic” leader plays to survive, not to win. This leader has been toughened by hard times, and always worries about the economy’s effect on the business, Nelson says. In some industries easily battered by a downturn, this style can be effective. But if maintained too long, the pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The final leadership style, the “steady/proactive” leader, is the one every CEO should strive to become, Nelson says. This type of leader values productivity and profitable growth above all things, knows how to achieve both and can course-correct no matter the difficulty. “They understand both offense and defense, and can shift between them as cycles dictate,” Nelson says.

•  Life cycle. A business has different needs at different stages of the corporate life cycle. The qualified entrepreneur must recognize that. The startup stage is where many entrepreneurs thrive. Creating something from scratch is what they are about. Needs and challenges change, though, as companies enter growth or expansion stages. The entrepreneur’s needs change, too, because entrepreneurs have their own life cycle, Nelson says.

First, there’s getting the business started, and then there’s the second-decision stage when the entrepreneur needs to choose what role he or she plays in the business, and whether others might be better equipped. There’s also a third decision when entrepreneurs realize work infringes too much on family and personal time, Nelson says. “To avoid regrets later, you have to consider whether you need to make a stronger commitment to a more balanced life.” Finally, there’s the end stage when the entrepreneur is finished with the current business and must decide what is next. Having experienced the “exit” twice in his career, Nelson has come to realize that after the sale only a few lives really change. Everybody else goes on with their normal day while the entrepreneur, much like a retired athlete, must figure out how to function without leading their entrepreneurial venture every day.

“Ideally, entrepreneurs and CEOs would be more knowledgeable than everyone we manage,” Nelson says. “That’s rare, though. The rest of us would benefit from a better understanding of the vast reaches of what we don’t know, and a dose of the humility that goes with it, and this is where the self-awareness component comes in.”

•  Self-Awareness. Entrepreneurs need to know their strengths and weaknesses, and how they affect the business, Nelson says. Unfortunately, that’s a trait they often fail to develop. His suggestion: Surround yourself with people who know more than you (entrepreneurs, leaders, and coaches/advisors who have been through all the life-cycle stages the entrepreneur is navigating through) and learn from them. Once you have a clear understanding of what you do and don’t know, you can decide your next steps. Will you continue to lead the business directly; take a supporting role and let someone else lead; or move on to create another business?

About Randy H. Nelson

Randy H. Nelson is a speaker, a coach, a Qualified Entrepreneur, a former nuclear submarine officer in the U.S. Navy and author of “The Second Decision – The Qualified Entrepreneur” (www.randyhnelson.com/book/). He co-founded and later sold two market-leading, multi-million dollar companies — Orion International and NSTAR Global Services. His proudest professional achievement was at the Fast 50 awards ceremony in the Raleigh, N.C., area when NSTAR, a 10-year-old company, and Orion, a 22-year-old company, were awarded the rankings No. 8 and No. 9, respectively. Nelson now runs Gold Dolphins, LLC, a coaching and consulting firm to help entrepreneurial leaders and CEOs becomeQualified Entrepreneurs and achieve their maximum potential. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Miami University, Ohio, and was awarded the Admiral Sidney W. Souers Distinguished Alumni Award there in 2011.

Family Business Success

November 15, 2014

5 Strategies to Ensure Family Business Success
Advisor Shares Tips for Avoiding Common Problems

Non-family businesses can learn a lot from family businesses, says Henry Hutcheson, a certified Family Business Advisor and founder of Family Business USA consultancy.

“Family businesses outperformed non-family businesses during the boom years leading up to the 2008 recession, and during the 2001 and 2008 recession years,” he says, citing a recent Harvard Business Review study.

Hutcheson, author of the new book, “Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business,” (http://dirtylittlesecretsoffamilybusiness.com), says family businesses were less likely to lay off workers during the lean times, and more likely to maintain their emphasis on socially responsible programs.
But that’s just the businesses that survived.

“Many closed their doors,” he notes.

With 25 years of business management and family business consulting experience, Hutcheson says he’s seen the patterns that can lead to major problems. And they’re almost always preventable.

“The factor that enables family businesses to rise to the top is trust: Family members can potentially trust one another far more than non-family members,” he says. “But trust can erode – when a family member can’t or won’t perform at the necessary level; when there’s a sense of entitlement; drug abuse; laziness. And that can have serious, business-killing consequences.

“If the business is professionalized, there will be a way to deal with those issues. But too often, safeguards are not in place.”

Hutcheson offers five top success strategies for family businesses:

•  Keep the lines of communication open. Schedule regular family meetings to discuss issues of concern and topics such as business transition, business performance, and responsibilities. Include all of the family members, no matter where in the hierarchy their jobs fall – exclusion creates animosity. Create a family manual that lays out the ground rules for how the meetings will take place to ensure everyone gets a chance to be heard and impediments to communication are left at the door.

•  Assign clear roles and responsibilities. As a family member, it’s natural to feel that everything is “my” business. However, not everything is every family member’s responsibility. Job definitions prevent everyone from jumping in to tackle the same problem, and help ensure the business runs smoothly.

•  Keep good financial data. The downfall of many small businesses and family businesses is not having solid data. Have a single point of contact to manage the finances. If you’re small enough, you can rely on a family member. Otherwise, you’ll need to bring in a qualified accountant. You may cringe at the cost for this, but the difference between a good accountant and a bad one is the difference between knowing exactly where you are on the road and trying to drive with a mud-covered windshield.

•  Avoid overpaying family members. Market-based compensation is fundamental and essential. Parents in family businesses tend to overpay the next generation, or pay everyone equally despite differing levels of responsibility. Both are bad practices. The longer unfair compensation practices continue, the messier it will be to clean up when it blows up.

•  Don’t hire relatives if they’re unqualified. Competence is key. Family businesses are a conundrum: The family aspect generates unqualified love, while the business side cares about profits. Thus, family members will be hired to provide them with a job, even though they’re not qualified. The remedy is to get them trained, move them to a role that matches their skills, or have them leave.

“More than 70 percent of all businesses are family businesses – they account for a significant number of new jobs and a large portion of the GDP,” Hutcheson says. “But that’s not the only reason they’re so important.

“They’re motivated by profits, but also by other important considerations: pride in the family name, building something for future generations, philanthropy. For those reasons, they contribute in tremendous ways to social stability. They make our communities better.”

About Henry Hutcheson

Henry Hutcheson is president of Family Business USA and specializes in helping family and privately held businesses successfully manage transition, maintain harmony, and improve operations. His newest book is “Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business: How to Successfully Navigate Family Business Conflict and Transition,” (http://dirtylittlesecretsoffamilybusiness.com); he’s also quoted in “Kids, Wealth, and Consequences” and “Sink or Swim: How Lessons from the Titanic Can Save Your Family Business.” Hutcheson grew up working for his family’s business, Olan Mills Portrait Studios. He studied psychology and has an MBA from Columbia Business School, and is a popular speaker at professional, university and corporate-sponsored events.

Planning for an IRA

October 11, 2014

Obama’s ‘myRA’ Accounts This Fall 
May Alter Your Retirement Plans

Financial Expert Shares 3 Factors to Consider When Planning for an IRA

Important changes are coming this fall for what’s become one of the biggest concerns of the era: affording retirement.

Those who are saving for retirement and meticulously troubleshooting tax obstacles may want to restructure their plans. While members of Congress continue to battle over the budget, the Obama administration is preparing to roll out “myRA” savings accounts – IRA accounts – for those who do not currently have access to one.

When the “myRA” account reaches a certain amount, fledgling savers can roll it into a regular IRA account; different states will have their own guidelines. However, some of the benefits of existing savings options could be in peril, says financial advisor Jake Lowrey, president of Lowrey Financial Group, (www.lowreyfinancial.com).

Those include some of the tax advantages of retirement accounts currently enjoyed by higher-income workers. Some Roth IRA owners may also lose their exemption from required minimum distributions, or RMDs, while IRAs totaling less than six figures could see RMDs disappear.  

“There will be many people who’ll be unhappy about the changes and that’s understandable, but some may help our country avoid an avalanche of retirees facing poverty,” Lowrey says.

In just 15 years – 2030 – the last of the baby boomers will have reached 65. That means one of every five Americans will be of retirement age, according to the Pew Research Center’s population projections.

“Most people simply don’t know how to plan for retirement, and that’s made even more challenging with the changing government policies,” says Lowrey.

He offers guidance on choosing between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA as a retirement savings vehicle.

•  Traditional IRAs and Deductibility: For either traditional or Roth IRAs, it’s all a matter of how one prefers to be taxed. Generally speaking, the money you deposit in a traditional IRA isn’t taxed that year, and whatever earnings you have on your contributions won’t be taxed until you withdraw that money as a retiree.  So, if you earn $40,000 in one year and put $3,000 of it in an IRA, your taxable income drops to $37,000. The deposit will grow tax-free through the years. If you withdraw any before age 59½, you’ll face a penalty. After that, you can withdraw and the money will be taxed as earned income.

•  Roth IRAs, Exemptions and No RMDs: Roth IRA contributions are never deductible. You pay taxes on the money when you earn it, just like any other income. The benefit of a Roth is that when the owners decide to withdraw from it after age 59½, they will not be faced with anytaxes. In other words, the Roth offers tax-exempt rather than tax-deferred savings. Also, traditional IRA rules include required minimum distributions (RMDs). With a traditional IRA, you must begin to take RMDs by April 1 of the year following the year you reach age 70.5, but that isn’t the case with a Roth IRA.

•  The Best of Both Worlds? Naturally, IRA owners want to chart a path in which they’re penalized with taxes the least. It may be possible to cushion one’s retirement savings against future tax increases by converting some of an IRA to a Roth and earn tax-free gains going forward.

“Converting to a Roth will make sense for many people, and if you’re eligible to contribute to both types of IRAs, you may divide contributions between a Roth and traditional IRA,” Lowrey says. “But the total contributions to both must not surpass the limit for that tax year.”

About Jake Lowrey

Jake Lowrey is a financial consultant and president of Lowery Financial Group, (www.lowreyfinancial.com), an ethical and professional firm that guides clients to retirement success, including planning for long-term care needs. As a relationship-driven organization, Lowrey and his team educate clients about the newest, most progressive retirement and long-term care planning strategies to assure a brighter financial future.

A Word of Caution as Open Enrollment 
for Obamacare Coverage Approaches

By: Richard B. Alman

Open enrollment for 2015 health insurance coverage from the government marketplace is proposed to begin Nov. 15. People who plan to shop healthcare.gov should understand the rules or risk facing serious consequences down the road.

Granted, the rules were confusing to begin with and have been changed and re-arranged with little public explanation or education. Additionally, policies available through HealthCare.gov have been marketed as providing better coverage at lower subsidized prices than what’s available to most individuals shopping privately or covered through employer-sponsored programs.

Many policies purchased through the Health Care Act websites also qualify for government subsidies for the purchaser. Those subsidies are not available for policies purchased through other means.

That allure, and the public’s failure to understand the rules, is leading many to inadvertently break them, which may result in stiff penalties for individuals and families down the road.

Under the law, employers with 50 employees or more must offer policies that meet or exceed the new Health Care Act rules which, for instance, require certain preventative measures to be 100 percent covered. Some employees, unhappy with their companies’ offers, are instead purchasing through the marketplace in hopes of a better deal.

That’s a violation of the rules.

The IRS has been collecting data from all employers about who has access to an employer health plan. The IRS, according to information publicly available at this time, will not act on database comparisons that show which individuals with access to employer plans have instead purchased a plan through Obamacare.

That means those individuals will not get an early warning that they’ve violated the rules.

The result may be an IRS financial nightmare for those individuals, with the potential for fines, penalties, interest and having to return to the employer policy.

Before you sign up for a policy, ask an accountant, licensed insurance professional, or other person who understands the rules for a personal review and opinion of your specific circumstances. Each person will have a different set of issues that may determine which course of action is proper for your family.

About Richard B. Alman

Richard B. Alman is the principal and chief career/employment strategist of Recruiter Media Inc., the world’s largest owner/operator of career websites,www.RecruiterNetworks.com. Recruiter Networks offer recruiters, employers and job seekers a smarter alternative to the impersonal, less specific “universal” employment websites. It has been the only national, city-specific job board on the planet for more than a decade, serving more than 1,000 U.S. cities with each city having it’s own unique career website. Alman has worked in all aspects of recruiting and career/employment strategies with corporations such as General Motors and UBS and privately owned multi-national companies.

Breaking the 7 Figure Ceiling

September 18, 2014

4 Secrets for Breaking the 7-Figure Ceiling
Million-Dollar Business Coach Shares Tips for Taking It
to the Next Level on YOUR Terms

Can both recent reports on the economic muscle of black women in the United States be correct?

On the one hand, businesses owned by women of color – 42 percent of them African American – have skyrocketed since 1997, far surpassing even the impressive growth rate of businesses owned by all women. And they’ve grown far faster in terms of revenues and employees than the average for all women.

On the other hand, compared to other U.S. women, black women are less likely to be employed or insured, to hold college degrees or be represented in elected office – all indicators of prosperity.

“It appears to be a paradox, unless you understand black women,” says Dr. Venus Opal Reese, CEO of Defy Impossible, Inc. (www.DefyImpossible.com), a coaching business that helps black women — and men and women of all ethnicities — break the seven-figure ceiling.

“The survival strategies our ancestors learned from slavery are passed down to us and become our ‘normal.’ We’re taught that to feel good about ourselves, we have to work hard, sacrifice for others, prove ourselves, overcome; those are survival skills for which we’re socially rewarded. But when we allow society to dictate our inherent value, our self-worth, we will always come up short.”

That’s why so many smart, successful black women stay in jobs they hate – jobs that pay well but will never allow them to achieve their financial potential. That’s why they sacrifice for their children, their church, their community, but not for themselves. It’s why they can accomplish a great deal but still feel emotionally and financially impoverished. 
“Our self-worth and our mindset around money are our biggest barriers to breaking the million-dollar mark,” Dr. Venus says.

What do black women millionaires do differently? Dr. Venus shares some of their secrets, which are lessons for men and women of every ethnicity:

•  Make money from what you “know” instead of from what you “do.”
As employees, we rent out our behaviors for a certain number of hours each day. We’re paid to use our skills and accomplish tasks that benefit our employer. We all know how to make survival money from what we do.

Give up the working-class mentality of making money from what you “do” and start making money from what you “know.” Everyone has a skill, but not everyone has your story and your unique perspective on life – what you’ve learned from walking through fire. You have a million-dollar message that can be monetized to launch your entrepreneurial dream or take the dream you’ve launched to impossible new heights. First, you must identify it.

•  DON’T leave your day job until you have replaced your income.
Keep the job that’s paying the bills while you work on the side to market your message and build your revenue stream.

If you’re panicking about keeping the lights on, you’re not going to have the enthusiasm and creativity necessary to give your entrepreneurial dream your full, amazing power. Plus, having the lights on makes it a lot easier to get things done!”

Once you’re making enough money to replace that salary or hourly wage, give up the day job!

•  Don’t position yourself as a low-cost leader. 
Imagine being a Kia and then trying to be a Bentley. The market won’t believe you. If you want to go high-end, you have to stop charging low. It takes clarity, trust and confidence to up your rates, but it also forces you to get crystal clear on why people should pay top dollar to work with you. If you start low with the intention of going high, you will attract all the people looking for a deal. These people will never want to pay more. So don’t build your business on low-end items.

•  Trade on value instead of volume.
Another pitfall of charging low ticket is that it is dependent upon a high volume of people buying in order for you to earn a living. When you move into the world of high-end leadership, you don’t make your money from volume. You make your money from the value you bring your clients. The more value you provide, the more you can charge. Value can be tangible, emotional, prestige, exclusivity, or customization. When you build your business around value instead of volume, you naturally charge more — and get more — high-end clients.

About Dr. Venus Opal Reese

Dr. Venus Opal Reese, CEO of Defy Impossible, Inc. (www.DefyImpossible.com), is an acclaimed international speaker; CEO Mindset, Messaging and Marketing Mentor; and entrepreneur coach. She holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. from Stanford University, and worked as a university professor before investing in herself by testing her entrepreneurial skills. Her business, Defy Impossible, grossed $1.2 million less than three years after launching.

Retirement Insurance

July 23, 2014

Do You Have Insurance on Your Retirement Plan?
Financial Planner Shares Tips for Protecting Your Savings

You have insurance on your home, your car, your health. 

How about your retirement plan?

“People have homeowners insurance to protect against fires and floods,” notes independent financial planner Stephen Ng, founder and president of Stephen Ng Financial Group, (www.stephenngfg.com). “They buy insurance to replace their car if it gets wrecked and they buy health insurance to protect themselves from medical costs.

“But for many people, their biggest material asset is their retirement portfolio. When I look at a new client’s portfolio and ask, ‘Where’s your insurance?’ they look at me like I’m crazy!”

Insure your retirement fund by taking steps to safeguard at least a portion of it, Ng says. As you get closer to retiring, the amount you safeguard will be what you need to rely on for your retirement income.

“Your retirement income should be derived from guaranteed sources, such as Social Security benefits and your pension plan,” says Ng, a licensed 3(21) fiduciary advisor, certified to advise companies about their 401(k) and other retirement plans. “It’s the amount you need to pay the bills and do the other things you hope to do in retirement, so your retirement income needs to be a guaranteed source of income.

“Then you look for your ‘play checks.’ That’s the money you don’t absolutely have to have, so you can still try to grow it, and take risks with it, in the market.”

Ng offers these tips for insuring your retirement plan:

•  Invest a portion of your portfolio in annuities. 
Annuities are long-term investment options through insurance companies that guarantee you payments over a certain rate of time, which could be the rest of your life or the life of your spouse or other survivor. Note: The guarantee is subject to the financial strength and claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

•  If you leave your job, quickly roll your employer-sponsored 401(k) into an IRA.
While 401(k)s are a great tool for saving, particularly if your employer is providing matching funds, if you were to die, the taxes your survivors would pay on your 401(k) would be much higher than on an IRA. That’s because they would have to inherit the money in a lump sum – that could easily take 35 percent right off the top. The lump-sum rule does not apply to IRAs. While your spouse would have the option to inherit your 401(k) as an IRA, your children would not. So, take advantage of your employer-sponsored 401(k), but if you leave the company, convert to an IRA or ROTH IRA. You can also begin transferring your 401(k) funds to an IRA at age 59½.

•  Consider converting your IRA to a ROTH IRA.
For protection from future income tax rate increases, you should consider slowly converting your tax-deferred IRA funds into a ROTH IRA. Yes, you’ll have to pay the taxes now on the money you transfer, but that will guarantee that withdrawals in your retirement are not taxed – even as the money grows. If you plan to leave at least part of your IRA to your children, they’ll benefit from a fund that continues to grow tax-free. 

About Stephen Ng

Stephen Ng is the founder and president of Stephen Ng Financial Group™ (www.stephenngfg.com). Since 1992, he has helped pre-retirees and retirees preserve and increase their wealth by, in part, helping them avoid common mistakes. He regularly holds financial management, retirement investing and insurance planning seminars at businesses, churches and non-profit organizations. Ng is a Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant and a Certified Estate Planner. He is also an Investment Advisor Representative with SagePoint Financial, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC.  He brings a national and international perspective to his financial advice, with professional and educational roots in Australia and Asia, and certifications in 19 states. 

4 Tricks for Creating a Winning Corporate Culture
CEO & Sales Guru Says the Right Culture Fosters
Engagement, Loyalty & Productivity

If you’re the CEO of a company, the realization that much of what you do can be copied by your competitors may be distressing, but veteran sales manager, consultant and business speaker Jack Daly says not so fast.

“Sure your competition copy what they can, but there are two things they can’t: your people and your culture,” says Daly, author of “Hyper Sales Growth,” (www.jackdaly.net).

“I specialize in corporate coaching and sales, the latter of which really counts on the talent and sustained motivation of the sales force. Even your best salesperson needs that extra shot from time to time, and the best way to ensure a driven team is to create a culture that fosters the results you want.”

Some companies are outpacing their competition because of their culture, including Southwest Airlines, Zappos and the Virgin Group, says Daly, who offers these tips for growing a business culture that inspires loyalty, engagement and the high performance those qualities produce.

•  Start new hires on a Friday – and with a big welcome. Many managers think new employees should start on Monday – the day when their new co-workers are facing a long to-do list for the week. Consider starting them on Friday, when the office is a bit looser. Also – how about throwing the new hire a welcoming party? Many offices hold going away parties for departing employees, but it makes more sense to put this enthusiasm toward the person with whom you’re making a commitment, rather than the person who’s no longer working for you.

•  Recognize accomplishments by putting it in writing – handwriting. Typing emails and instant messaging is clearly much more convenient, which is why an employee who deserves special attention will recognize the extra effort behind a hand-written note. A letter has that personal touch; the receiver knows that the manager or CEO has taken some time and effort to create a special communication just for him or her. 

•  Provide lunch – for free. “One of my clients started with just 10 employees, and each day one would bring in lunch for everyone,” Daly says. “As the company grew to several hundred employees, the CEO found that free lunches were so beneficial, the company now hires a caterer to maintain the boost in culture it provides.” While many may cringe at the expense, employee appreciation outweighs the cost, Daly’s client says, and it keeps people engaged within the office, rather than having employees leave for lunch.

•  Flatten the privilege structure. It’s not a good idea to create anything resembling a class system, including special parking for upper management. “I was the No.1 salesmen at one company, but I always preferred to park with the others,” Daly says. “I’d come in at 5 a.m. and noticed that those with reserved parking arrived significantly later than those who parked in unreserved spots.” Parking should be on a first-come, first-serve basis. Upper management shouldn’t feel too entitled or privileged above other employees.  

About Jack Daly

Jack Daly, (www.jackdaly.net), author of “Hyper Sales Growth,” is an expert in sales and sales management, inspiring audiences to take action in customer loyalty and personal motivation through explosive keynote and general session presentations. He draws upon more than 20 years of business experience, with several successful stints as the CEO of fast-growing companies. Daly has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA. He was a captain in U.S. Army and is an accomplished author, with audio and DVD programs.

4 Tricks for Creating a Winning Corporate CultureCEO & Sales Guru Says the Right Culture Fosters Engagement, Loyalty & Productivity

 

If you’re the CEO of a company, the realization that much of what you do can be copied by your competitors may be distressing, butveteran sales manager, consultant and business speaker Jack Daly says not so fast.

 

“Sure your competition copy what they can, but there are two things they can’t: your people and your culture,” says Daly, author of “Hyper Sales Growth,” (www.jackdaly.net).

 

“I specialize in corporate coaching and sales, the latter of which really counts on the talent and sustained motivation of the sales force. Even your best salesperson needs that extra shot from time to time, and the best way to ensure a driven team is to create a culture that fosters the results you want.”

 

Some companies are outpacing their competition because of their culture, including Southwest Airlines, Zappos and the Virgin Group, says Daly, who offers these tips for growing a business culture that inspires loyalty, engagement and the high performance those qualities produce.

 

  •  Start new hires on a Friday – and with a big welcome. Many managers think new employees should start on Monday – the day when their new co-workers are facing a long to-do list for the week. Consider starting them on Friday, when the office is a bit looser. Also – how about throwing the new hire a welcoming party? Many offices hold going away parties for departing employees, but it makes more sense to put this enthusiasm toward the person with whom you’re making a commitment, rather than the person who’s no longer working for you.
  •  Recognize accomplishments by putting it in writing – handwriting. Typing emails and instant messaging is clearly much more convenient, which is why an employee who deserves special attention will recognize the extra effort behind a hand-written note. A letter has that personal touch; the receiver knows that the manager or CEO has taken some time and effort to create a special communication just for him or her.
  •  Provide lunch – for free. “One of my clients started with just 10 employees, and each day one would bring in lunch for everyone,” Daly says. “As the company grew to several hundred employees, the CEO found that free lunches were so beneficial, the company now hires a caterer to maintain the boost in culture it provides.” While many may cringe at the expense, employee appreciation outweighs the cost, Daly’s client says, and it keeps people engaged within the office, rather than having employees leave for lunch.
  •  Flatten the privilege structure. It’s not a good idea to create anything resembling a class system, including special parking for upper management. “I was the No.1 salesmen at one company, but I always preferred to park with the others,” Daly says. “I’d come in at 5 a.m. and noticed that those with reserved parking arrived significantly later than those who parked in unreserved spots.” Parking should be on a first-come, first-serve basis. Upper management shouldn’t feel too entitled or privileged above other employees.

 About Jack Daly

Jack Daly, (www.jackdaly.net), author of “Hyper Sales Growth,” is an expert in sales and sales management, inspiring audiences to take action in customer loyalty and personal motivation through explosive keynote and general session presentations. He draws upon more than 20 years of business experience, with several successful stints as the CEO of fast-growing companies. Daly has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA. He was a captain in U.S. Army and is an accomplished author, with audio and DVD programs.