Category Archives: Business Agenda Classifieds Columns

Success Wizard: Manage Your Credit Cards Effectively

(Originally published on August 28, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jordan Patente

Whoever said genies aren’t real? While they no longer live in traditional magic lamps, they’ve moved to a smaller and more powerful house: the credit card. One swipe  (no need to rub!) and you’ll get what you want. And unlike the old genies, the credit card will not ask you to trade your soul in exchange for three wishes—you just need to affix your signature.

This is the life most of us are living. We treat the credit card as the modern day genie. This genie can give you the life you’ve been dreaming of, but on the other hand, it can also make your life miserable. If mismanaged, it can ruin you, your family and even your career.

With the help of my business partner Ramonchito Alba Flores, I will share tips on how to use your credit card and maximize its numerous benefits.

Your credit card management style ref lects your cash management approach. If you handle your cash right, you will do the same thing with the credit card. This means that if you have troubles handling cash, expect to have more of it with credit card. If you’re looking at a credit card to settle your debts, think twice and figure out long-term solutions.

For beginners, it is wise to maintain only one credit card account. Once you are confident about managing your credit card finances, then you can get another account that will give you more perks.

Choose your credit card wisely. There are several types of credit cards available. You can pick the most suitable card based on your requirements and financial situation. I highly recommend an account with annual membership charge. If you manage your account dues well and have no outstanding balance at the end of the year, your annual fee can be waived.

Make wise decisions about purchasing items you need versus those you simply want. Using your credit card responsibly means recognizing which things you need and which you just want. Use your credit card to buy things you can afford. Living a borrowed lifestyle and using a credit card as a substitute for cash is the quickest way to get into debt. To purchase something is easy, but it is hard to pay higher interest rates on credit amount. For ordinary purchases, leave your credit card in your wallet and use cash or a debit card instead.

Zero percent deals are good, but only if you have the cash to pay for these items. If the lack of cash is your reason for availing of the deal, forget it. Don’t count your chicken if the eggs have not yet hatched. If you have full control over your credit card, only then can you start enjoying credit card deals and promos. You can charge most of your expenses to it.

Be in touch with your credit card company and pay your monthly dues on time to avoid interest. You should have also knowledge of late fees, extra charges and hidden factors of your credit card account. Knowing your credit card terms and conditions will help you manage your debt effectively.

Don’t get into the habit of making minimum-only payments. Making only the minimum payment each month increases the amount of time it will take to pay off your debt. It also increases the amount of interest you end up paying. Spend based on your financial status.

Use your credit card if you have cash on hand. After the credit card purchase, save the cash to pay for it, and it should not be used until the due date comes. This strategy will earn credit card perks for you to enjoy. Credit card companies will entice you to spend and be indebted to them. That’s perfectly fine, but paying them so much interest is not.

Don’t give your credit card to someone. If you want to share your credit card, share it with someone you trust. Supplementary cards are good if the other person has credible exceptional financial management skills; if not, forget it.

Stay within 30 percent of your credit limit. Lower balances are easier to manage.

Communication is key. Let your creditor know in advance if you won’t be able to make your monthly payment on time. The worst thing you can do is simply forgoing your credit card payment. Most creditors will assist you if you let them know before you miss your payment. Simply call your creditor, briefly explain the situation, and ask that any late fees be waived. As a one-time goodwill gesture, credit card companies will grant you that. Let me end this article with a memorable story. This took place a couple of months ago and it will continue to happen as a result of good credit card management. Hopefully the above tips will earn you the same experience in the near future.

It was such a busy week for Dynamic Empowerment Philippines Co. that my business partner and I decided to unwind that weekend. We had a good meal and we watched a movie. The movie left us with topics to chat about over coffee. Just before we left the mall, for the first time I appreciated their parking system. It was an excellent day!

Dinner to parking was all-expense paid—thanks to our credit card. Credit card providers offered good promotions with our prior purchases and we’ve accumulated enough

receipts to exchange for all those perks that day. This, too, can happen to you. Don’t let your debt manage you; instead, manage it and enjoy boundless opportunities.

 

Jordan Willy Patente is the president of Dynamic Empowerment Philippines and has been a success coach for five years. He has also conducted motivational talks and directed musical and theatrical productions.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

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Business Coach: How to Get Good Employees

(Originally published on August 28, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Ruben Anlacan Jr.

Good employees are the foundation of any company’s success. However, most small to medium-scale enterprises have no HR department to do the hiring process that getting suitable personnel is seldom done in a professional manner. Making things more difficult is that the most qualified candidates naturally gravitate to larger companies because of higher offers and perceived job security.

Because entrepreneurs tend to be hands-on when it comes to all aspects of the business, they cannot hope to match the sophistication of the HR specialists in larger firms. Still, having a prepared procedure based on best practices will go a long way in improving your recruitment process.

Below are some of the most important things to do when you are hiring:

1. Have a list of the qualities necessary or desirable for the position. This will enable you to better judge the suitability of a job seeker. You could also supplement this with a negative list that shows characteristics that are absolutely banned from your workplace.

2. Interview enough applicants to select from. If you only have few choices, there is a strong tendency to just pick the bad from the worse, so I would suggest that you interview at least 20 applicants to have a better chance of getting an ideal candidate. To get a sufficient number of competent applicants, it may be necessary to spend a substantial amount on advertising for the position. This is one expense that will pay off in the long run.

3. Have an application form. Even if job seekers will be bringing their own resume, it is important that you have them complete an application form when they arrive. Customize your application form according to the position. Note that job seekers’ resumes contain what they want you to see, while your application form will bring out what you want to see.

4. Have plenty of space to indicate employment history in the application form. It is crucial to have the most complete employment record possible, so design your application form in such a way that there would be no reason not to include the applicant’s entire employment history.

5. Check gaps in employment records. It is important to know the reasons for an extended period of unemployment between jobs. There is a possibility that the gap was due to the non-inclusion of a job where the departure was due to a termination, or where the company is likely to give poor feedback. If the gap was attributed to a stint abroad, request to see the job seeker’s passport as proof.

6. Demand the necessary clearances. It is standard operating procedure to at least ask for a current NBI and employer clearance. Still, there are some small companies that neglect to check even the most elementary documents.

7. Allot sufficient time to do a thorough interview. Depending on the position, a proper interview should last from ten minutes to half an hour, at the very least. Rushing the questions will not allow the job seeker enough time to answer thoroughly. You would also be missing opportunities to better assess the suitability of the candidate.

8. Have prepared tests. Design or obtain tests that would measure the capacity of the applicant to do the job. These may be general tests like IQ tests or they may be more specific, like seeing if the applicant can operate a particular machine effectively.

9. Check on previous employers. One of the best ways to know if a prospective employee is truly suitable is by calling on previous employers. Inquire not only on his work proficiency but also regarding his personal attitude.

10. Require a physical checkup. Since it is very inconvenient and costly, one of the last but necessary things to do is to require the applicant to undergo a physical check-up.

This is very important because no company wants to be hindered by an employee that is always absent due to poor health. It may also be that the applicant is suffering from a highly contagious disease.

 

Despite all the pessimism, there are plenty of good employees in the market that are a fine fit for your operations. It just takes a little more effort and preparation to see a dramatic improvement in your hiring. This will give your company’s operations a big boost since having qualified employees in your company will enable higher levels of productivity and fewer headaches.

 

Business and management consultant Ruben Anlacan, Jr. is the president of  BusinessCoach, Inc. and a resource speaker for various business topics. He discusses overviews and tips for business from the point of view of a small- or medium-scale entrepreneur who has started several successful enterprises. Those who wish to ask questions or to make comments may visit http://entrepcoach.blogspot.com or e-mail entrepcoach@gmail.com.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Success Wizard: Control Bad Spending Habits Now

(Originally published on August 24,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jordan Patente

My mother moved to a new address recently. She had to organize a lot of things before moving to the new house, and the most challenging part of moving was transporting all her knickknacks. I saw a lot of unused items still in their original packaging. These are pieces that do not fit her lifestyle and just occupy space in her house. Summing up the cost of all those items, she could have already bought a brand new bed.

Most of us complain about not having enough resources to fund our lifestyles. But if we look closely at our expenses, we’ll find that we’ve been investing in a lot on things we don’t need. Not a lot of us are aware of our spending habits.

Who doesn’t love red-hot specials? I know friends who mark their calendars to anticipate the big event. Some prepare their credit cards and borrow money, while others purchase items they feel are badly needed at that time.

There are thousands of good deals out there and if you are not strong enough to turn down temptations, you’ll be an impulsive buyer. I know colleagues who enjoy shopping so much that they let expenses control their lives.

Who said your earning is not enough for you to meet both ends? Who said the amount of money that comes in is more important than what you’re saving? I know a lot of employees who earn well and spend bigger than what they earn every month. Regardless of your earning capacity, how you deal with money defines your present and your future.

Below are some of the tips that you could use to control bad spending habits and start saving:

Make a list and stick to it. You have to be organized when shopping. Create a list and religiously follow it. This will help you avoid unnecessary purchases. The list is created to identify items that you need, and if it’s not in there, then it is unnecessary.

Follow a mandatory waiting period. When you see something you’d like to buy, rather than buying it on the spot, force yourself to think about it for a week. We normally want something with so much emotion the first time we see it, but think—do you really need it? After a week, you will realize if it’s a must-buy, or forget about it altogether.

Avoid shopping on payday. Most people feel richer on payday and are more vulnerable to frivolous purchases. Set a working budget first before you go shopping. This will set a limit to your spending so make sure you stick to it.

Pay in cash. Numerous studies have shown that when people pay in cash rather than their credit card, they tend to spend less. This is because using cash makes spending more real, and the money harder to part with. If you still opt to use your card, every time you use it, set aside your cash payment or pay your provider the day after.

Wait for second-generation gadgets. When it comes to buying the latest high tech gadgets, it makes sense to wait. Most technology decreases in price after it is initially released. Later versions usually have fewer bugs and better capability. Most of your current gadgets have all the functions you desire, so think wisely if you need a new one or just save the money for better use.

Set and focus on your goals. Knowing what’s important to you and what you really want to achieve with your money will help distract you from short-term wants.

Always begin with an end in mind. If discipline and control over your spending is a must to achieve your greater goals, do it. Saving and achieving your goals are just the effect of good money management. What you learn from the process is priceless and will give you boundless opportunities in return. Bigger goals, once achieved, will help finance your wants in the near future. For now, maximize your hard earned money by multiplying your fortune, not your liabilities.

These are some of the benefits that you’ll get when you follow these tips: you’ll see your savings grow, you’ll feel great pride in controlling your spending, and saving will become second nature.

 

Jordan Willy Patente is the president of Dynamic Empowerment Philippines and has been a success coach for five years. He has also conducted motivational talks and directed musical and theatrical productions.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

BizMaker: Money Leeches in the Family

(Originally published on August 21,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Mark So

Because this is the third part in a series of articles, please go to my blog if you have not read the previous articles: http://www.markso.wordpress.com.

Recently I talked about being aware and effectively stopping your “Money Leeches.” Should a money leech appear who is not part of your immediate family, I recommended that you only offer P50 and not a centavo more. Although it may seem harsh, this is the first real step in getting your money to stay with you. Also remember that if you think you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your immediate family instead.

Money Leeches in the Family

The question now is, what if your money leeches are from your immediate family? Like a brother or a sister or a parent? What then?

First, let me define what an “immediate family money leech” is. This is the brother or sister or parent that will habitually ask you for money. Most of the time, they even feel entitled to it because of your blood relationship.

This is where it gets very sensitive for a lot of people. Everybody has a different opinion on this, but this is my clear-cut view on it: not all members of your immediate family carry the same weight. You must prioritize within your immediate family whom you can be generous to first.

In my life, my first priority is my wife and children, then my parents and my siblings. With that in mind, I give 90 percent of my money to my wife and children first, the next five goes to me, and the remaining five percent goes to a special fund in case an immediate family member needs it. So should there be a money leech in my immediate family, the maximum amount of cash I give is only the five percent of whatever I have at the time. Depending on how much money you have right now, that can either be very little or very big, but the point is even if it concerns immediate family (outside of my wife and children) my cash generosity is budgeted, controlled and managed.

If you are single, I do not suggest offering 90 percent to your immediate family—unless you plan to never marry, budget it at five to 10 percent because of two reasons: 1) If you give more than that, you might not have a money leech now. But if they get used to it, you would have created one down the road; and 2) You need money for when you get married someday. If there was a major regret I had in my life, it was that I didn’t plan financially when the time came for me to marry the love of my life. Even though it worked out in the end, I could have planned it much better.

Make no mistake—my life’s wealth is meant for my immediate family. Everything I make and have is meant to be shared with them, and to give them a better life. But if I have a money leech problem and do not budget and control it, the money leech will most definitely bleed me dry financially. And if I might add, if you are married and a money leech is within the immediate family, it can destroy your marriage if you don’t handle it properly Trust me. I’ve seen it happen. This is why I urge you to understand what I am sharing. If nothing else, I want all of you to have a great and happy marriage.

Be Generous in the Right Way

Before you decide that I am a heartless scrooge, do remember that we are just talking about money leeches in the immediate family who habitually ask for money and even feel entitled to it. If they are not leeching you dry and they desperately need help and you can afford to do so, then give what you can.

If you know me well enough, you would know that I am a very generous person. And the reason why I wrote what I wrote is because I was once extremely generous with my money to anyone and everyone. I learned that being overly generous with money, especially if you do not know how to manage it, is extremely dangerous and is a clear recipe for money to run away from you.

Instead, what I learned to do and what I want you to learn to do is to be generous in kind. To explain this further, I will give you two assignments today.

Assignment 1: Read my past article, entitled “Business Reciprocity,” in http://www.markso.wordpress.com. Comment on either that article or this one. Complain to me about the problems you have in completing the assignments. Believe me, I will read every single one.

Assignment 2: Set a budget for your Family Leeches and stick to it. Create a script on how you will say it to them. You can e-mail it to me if you want: markso@zerocapitalclub.com.

 

Mark So is a businessman, investor and educator. He is the chairman and CEO of BusinessmakerAcademy—a business, finance and corporate training center. He is the founder and Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Asia, a trading club of Forex Traders across Asia. He is also the founder and chief trainer of the Philippine Franchise Institute, which specializes in training and growing existing Franchise businesses. A sought after speaker for business and investing, you may e-mail your comments and questions to mhso@businessmaker-academy.com or call the office at (2) 687-4445/3416/4645 for a schedule of his seminars.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Business Coach: The Seven Common Pricing Mistakes

(Originally published on August 21,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Ruben Anlacan Jr.

Of all the components of the marketing mix, pricing is the most neglected. This is a common mistake made by entrepreneurs because despite everything, price is the primary determinant of sales and profits. To a large extent, your company’s strategy and physical appearance are affected by your pricing decisions.

The truth is, figuring the best price to sell your product or service is no simple task. In fact, many books have been written on this topic alone. To be able to offer useful advice, I am constrained to limit our discussion only to the worst pricing bloopers usually committed by entrepreneurs:

1. Adopting the going rate. The majority of businessmen choose this option because it is considered a safe choice. Going with the general market price, many think, is a great short cut because your competitors are unlikely to sell at a loss. However, this is not always the case. It is possible that they are able to obtain supplies at a far lower cost and you may suffer a loss if you copy their price. On the other hand, there may be compelling reasons why you should price higher; your quality and service may be superior and a premium price is justified.

2. Neglecting to cost in your overhead. You must be able to recover not only the materials you bought, but also cover expenses like rental, depreciation and labor costs. Going through all the expenses that make up your total cost with an accountant is time and money well spent.

3. Engaging in a price war. Rarely is this a wise choice for an entrepreneur, as everyone loses in a price war. You must have a lot of reserve capital to sustain this strategy, and most of the time it is not the ideal course. In case you find yourself being attacked by a price- cutting competitor, a better strategy is to differentiate your product or to launch a lower cost brand.

4. Refusing to lower prices when necessary. There are times when you need to lower the price even below cost in order to make the item move. But many would not sell below their cost, preferring to wait for months or years to dispose of the item. This results in capital being tied unproductively, besides incurring storage costs. Another bad side effect of this is that your customers will not like being offered shop-worn and passé items.

5. Forgetting to factor in taxes. There are taxes that must be paid, and you must take them into account when setting your price. The most important tax to consider is the value added tax or VAT, because unless you are VAT-exempt, this must be paid even if you do not make a profit.

6. Applying the same markup across all items. If you carry a lot of inventory, you must take the time to study the best markup for each item. One tip I can give you is to price competitively on popular, fast-moving items. I know some retailers that have a reputation for low prices, when in fact they are low on only a handful of popular items.

7. Neglecting to continuously monitor market prices. While I advised not blindly copying the going market rates, ignoring it is a worse blunder. You must always be vigilant in checking the prices of competitors. Having this knowledge early will give you more time to plan how to react before too much damage on your sales is done.

Pricing is the most potent variable in marketing that you can easily control. The pricing policy you adopt can make or break your business. As you realize its importance, it will be wise to ponder your current pricing strategy.

 

Business and management consultant Ruben Anlacan, Jr. is the president of  BusinessCoach, Inc. and a resource speaker for various business topics. He

discusses overviews and tips for business from the point of view of a small- or medium-scale entrepreneur who has started several successful enterprises. Those who wish to ask questions or to make comments may visit http://entrepcoach.blogspot.com or e-mail entrepcoach@gmail.com.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Work Life: Age Limits

(Originally published on August 17,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jhoanna O. Gan-So

When you are young and free, your career possibilities are endless. Opportunities abound. You can experiment a bit and hopefully find a career that is best suited for you.

As you grow older, however, your choices begin to shape your career and you’ll find yourself in a set line of work. By the time you are in your late thirties, you’ve gained enough knowledge in your chosen field and you should ideally be moving upwards in your industry.

This is also the time when you would have already taken on more of life’s responsibilities. You may have gotten married and begun to have children. You may need to take care of ailing parents or other siblings. All of these are reasons why you want to work to provide well for your family.

But what if, all of a sudden, you find yourself longing for a change of career? Or what if life suddenly threw you a curveball and you find yourself out of work and in need of a new job?

You then open Manila Bulletin’s classified ads section. You look for job listings that are suitable for your knowledge and experience since you want to capitalize on what you’ve mastered in the last decade. You find a couple of job advertisements that suit you.

Good reputable company, check.

Good position, check.

Skills required, check.

Competitive compensation and benefits, check.

You’ve found your next job…but wait! It says in the job ad that the age requirement is from 25 to 35 years old. And you’ve just celebrated your 40th birthday. Bummer. You then look at other job ads and notice a similar pattern. There is an age limit specified in the job ads. You’re way above the age limit.  You then start wondering exactly what another reader questioned in this letter:

I’m an engineer by profession and I also finished EMBA. I currently work overseas for a power plant. The pay is good and knowledge advancement is great. However, I miss home and have been exploring the possibility of coming back for good. I’ve been looking at job advertisements, but I have noticed age limitations that are, well, limiting. We say that experience plays a big part in true learning, and you can acquire this through years of working as you also age. As I browsed job listings, I saw that I am qualified for most of the openings, but I always end up frustrated because of the age requirement. So I have a few questions regarding this issue: Is the age limit mandatory as a minimum requirement for all hiring companies? Does HR have an influence on this? Is this what we call “Equal Opportunity”? I hope you can enlighten me.—A Mature Engineer

My Response:

Before HR practitioners post job advertisements, they usually conduct a job analysis wherein they try to define the required skills, competencies and scope of work needed for the position. They also determine what age range and, sometimes, even the gender the manager in need of staffing prefers so that they will have a clear set of criteria for recruitment. As much as possible, HR confers with the manager on his or her preference since s/he will be the one working directly with the new hire.

Although age limitations and gender specification do not exactly reflect the ideals of  equal opportunity, which has been made into law by some first world countries, it is commonly practiced in our country for practical purposes.

From an employer’s point of view, younger employees are seen as less costly and tend to demand lower compensation because they do not have that many family obligations or medical health problems yet. They also have more years ahead, so investing in their training offers the chance for longer service time. On the other hand, some companies are also aware that older and veteran workers have more experience and knowledge. They have already been trained by their previous employers. They have first-hand practical experience and are usually more emotionally mature to handle work concerns and issues.

In the end, it really depends on the company’s culture, needs and financial capacity. Some companies have strict age requirements while others are more flexible. If they can afford to, they hire veterans for higher positions; if they cannot, they get consultants to help out and train their younger work force.

I understand how difficult it is for older people to find jobs. Usually, the older you become and the higher your position gets, the opportunities seem to get narrower. But older people still have a lot of options. You just have to go out of your comfort zone, think outside the box, and explore other ways to pursue your career.

Stay tuned for my next article to get ideas on how to conquer age limits. Meanwhile, you can read up on past articles at http://hrclubonline.blogspot.com/.

 

Jhoanna O. Gan -So is president of Businessmaker Academy, HR Club Philippines and Teach It Forward Organization. Her company holds corporate skills training programs and HR seminars for various individuals and corporations. To know more about the seminars and services that they offer, visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com or http://www.hrclubphilippines.com. You may also call (632)6874645 or e-mail your comments and questions to mbworklife@gmail.com.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

 

Work Life: Ten Characteristics of Great Employers

(Originally published on August 14,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jhoanna O. Gan-So

In my last column, I wrote about “Ten Characteristics of Star Employees.”  This time, I’d like to explore the flip side and discuss what makes great employers.

See, your happiness and contentment in the workplace is directly affected by how the you work for company is run. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just the salary that people look at when they choose employers. Money is not the end-all and be-all of job satisfaction. So if you want to be part of a great company, aspire to find or even help develop these 10 characteristics in your workplace:

1. They have a clear vision. Great employers have direction. Their leaders have a clear picture of what they want their company to stand for and where they want to go. We’re talking here about full enculturation of the company’s vision, mission and values that employees live by as guiding principles. It’s not just about putting a mission statement in a frame and hanging it on the wall. It’s about building a culture that employees are proud of and can easily identify with on a daily basis.

2 . They have a good recruitment process. Great employers know that top notch employees equal an excellent company. So they establish recruitment systems that are

designed to get the crème of the crop, not the bottom of the barrel. They seek out people who are skilled with the right attitude to fill in key positions in their company. They

are organized in their recruitment efforts and have done the necessary homework for finding competent employees.

3. They have adequate compensation and benefits programs. Once they’ve hired their employees, great employers are able to keep them longer because they provide not just competitive salaries, but also benefits and perks. These benefits may include essentials from healthcare and allowances for uniforms or food, to fun stuff like workshops and outings, to cool perks like transportation assistance and mobile phone loads.

4. They train their people. Great employers also ensure that each employee grows professionally by providing training to help enhance their capabilities. As soon as an employee is hired, they are given an orientation. Then as they settle into their jobs, they are provided on-the-job training. This is also followed up by seminars, workshops and learning materials that will help employees develop further.

5. They monitor their people’s performance. After all the training, great employers make sure that their employees are able to apply what they have learned. This is done by continuously monitoring performance. Managers and supervisors constantly look at how their subordinates are doing. They provide guidance and immediate feedback. Then this is followed up by regular performance evaluations that are documented by the company’s HR people.

6. They recognize and reward good performance. The reason why performance is monitored is so that the company can reward the good ones and correct those that need improvement. To encourage and motivate employees, great companies provide rewards and incentives. This could range from simple treats and tokens to elaborate programs like “employee of the month” recognitions and sales target bonuses with gifts like gadgets and trips abroad.

7. They equip their people with tools that help them work better and faster. If you want to double or triple your team’s performance, it is important to equip them with the right tools and equipment. Great employers understand this, s o they make sure that their people are given the best software and hardware. More importantly, they are trained to maximize them. They understand the tennet that, “When you give a man the tools and know-how, you can step back and see the ingenuity that may come after.”

8. They have safe and conducive work environments. Great employers understand that a person’s environment affects his or her moods. So they take care to provide a workplace that’s conducive and safe for work. You can easily determine if a company is great or not by how clean and well-maintained the place is. So gather those waste baskets and purge unimportant items, clear your desks and organize! A clean work station will improve your mood and make you work better for a great company.

9. They care about their people. Great employers are able to provide programs that ensure their employees are well-taken care of physically, emotionally and spiritually. The company has heart and they show it to their people with kind words, caring leaders, firm and constant guidance. They understand that “when you care for your people, your people will take care of the company.”

10. They develop leaders. Lastly, great employees develop leaders. They encourage initiative and innovation. They allow their employees to shine and provide opportunities for star performers to develop themselves as leaders. From the group of star performers, they choose and hone select people to lead the company to greater heights. The truth is, there’s no such thing as a perfect company. Great employers are simply built by the people who work for them. If you want to work for a great company, it is in your hands to make your company a great and happy place to work in.

If you are looking for a job, seek to find a company that has these qualities. If you are already employed, make your company a great place to work in. If you have influence in your company, seek to develop these characteristics to make your company great and reap the rewards of a happy and productive workplace!

Jhoanna O. Gan -So is president of Businessmaker Academy, HR Club Philippines and Teach It Forward Organization. Her company holds corporate skills training programs and HR seminars for various individuals and corporations. To know more about the seminars and services that they offer, visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com or http://www.hrclubphilippines.com. You may also call (632) 687-4645 or e-mail your comments and questions to mbworklife@gmail.com.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Bizmaker: Get Rid of Money Leeches

(Originally published on August 14,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Mark So

This article continues where we left off in the last one (if you have not yet read Part 1 of this article, please go to my blog now at (www.markso.wordpress.com), which touches on being more financially prepared to enable wealth to start flowing towards you.

Today’s lesson in particular is about being aware and effectively stopping your “Money Leeches,” or as I’d like to call them, people or “cosmically uncanny” situations that just happen to show up at the exact moment you come into some money. Sound familiar?

Think back to the time that you got that Php 5,000 bonus or an unexpected business from a client…who called or showed up at your doorstep needing urgent help or “who just  happened to drop by” that very same week needing exactly Php 5,000? Did your car, refrigerator or cell phone break down needing urgent repairs totaling more or less Php 5,000? Did you just happen to go to the mall that weekend, which incidentally had a sale on all items, and buy something that you would never use for more or less Php 5,000?

I bet you know exactly what I’m talking about. Yup, whoever he or she is, or whatever “situation” arose the last time you came into money, you have just identified your money

leeches. I know because I used to have lots of them. And I thought that that was the story of my life. And because I thought that way, the next time I got into some money, my money leeches would come. It became a reality for me, so much so that all the money I

made almost always went to some useless expense.

The problem is that most money leeches are usually family members or close friends. Or when situations arise, like your appliance breaking down or a cellphone gets stolen, you feel that it was by divine providence, that it was beyond your control, and you just have to give in.

Let me say right now that these can be stopped and it can be controlled. But it will take a major attitude and cultural change in you. It will require a lot of effort and a very thick face but if you apply what I will share, you will immediately achieve a major    breakthrough in our “wealth transfer project.”

First, stop thinking that having money leeches is normal—it’s not. You have to change your attitude, and your first assignment will help you do just that:

1. On a blank piece of paper I want you to hand write the following: “I am now aware that having Money Leeches will kill me financially. I will defend myself and get rid of them now.” Print your first name on a blank space below the statement, and then sign your name on top of it.

2. Scan the piece of paper or take a digital picture of it.

3. E-mail it to me as soon as you can. Please note that if you e-mail it to me, you are allowing me to post it on my blog should I choose to do so.

4. Place that piece of paper in a prominent spot in your wallet so that you can see it every time you open it.

The exercise above is meant to kick start your brain into acting and thinking about defending yourself against these money leeches. And yes, it is true; if you do not fix it right now, you will die financially.

Next, identify the people who are not immediate family members who constantly ask you for money. Note that these are the people who are not your wife, your children, your brother, your sister or your parents.

Here’s what you tell the people who are not immediate family the next time they ask for money.

Situation: “My _______ just got hospitalized, may I borrow Php 5,000?”

Your response: “I’m so sorry to hear that, I hope _______ is all right. I wish I could give you Php 5,000; but I can only afford to give Php 50 right now so I hope you understand.”

Regardless of the situation or any amount that a non-immediate family wants to “borrow” from you, only offer Php 50! There will be three possible reactions: 1) insulted, and will never want to ask money from you again; 2) grateful, and they take it; and 3) they negotiate. Regardless of their reaction, be willing to give only Php 50 and not a centavo more.

You might think it heartless, but it has to be done if you really want to get rid of your money leeches. Remember, this is to be used only on non-immediate family. They are not your burden and they are not your problem. The priority should always be your  immediate family. Reserve your generosity for them. But be smart with how you go about it. In the next article, I will talk about how to financially protect your immediate family and yourself from money leeches within your immediate family.

I’ll end this with another assignment: e-mail your feedback about this article or the preceding one. What I am interested in are not praises (although that would be nice, too); instead, complain to me about the problems you have in completing the assignments. E-mail me at markso@zerocapitalclub.com and tell me why you don’t think this or any of the assignments I have given you will ever work for you. Believe me, I will read every single one and I promise that I will not ban you or even get mad at you when you do. It is all part of the process.

Until the next article.

 

Mark So is a businessman, investor and educator. He is the chairman and CEO of BusinessmakerAcademy—a business, finance and corporate training center. He is the founder and Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Asia, a trading club of Forex Traders across Asia. He is also the founder and chief trainer of the Philippine Franchise Institute, which specializes in training and growing existing Franchise businesses. A sought after speaker for business and investing, you may e-mail your comments and questions to mhso@businessmaker-academy.com or call the office at (2) 687-4445/3416/4645 for a schedule of his seminars.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Business Coach: Surviving Your Business, Surviving Marriage

(Originally published on August 14,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

 

Can Husbands and Wives Run a Successful Business?

 

By Ruben Anlacan Jr.

Most couples dream of having a business together. Being in love, and believing in “for richer, and for poorer,” it sure seems a good decision for couples to be working together in the same business. Unfortunately, this is not always true.

A husband and wife together in the same business can bring chaos in the workplace. It is almost always inevitable to bring personal problems in the company, and vice-versa. In fact, I know some employers who would not even employ couples in their company.

Their personal problems become the issues of their bosses.

After getting married, my wife and I immediately started a business. It was not easy the first time because we brought work home. We debated on work-related issues over breakfast, lunch, and even dinner. Yes, we went to coffee shops during weekends, but still we talked about business while sipping coffee. It was a nightmare!

Also, at first, we decided to bring home just some paperwork. But later on we brought almost half our jobs home so we could work on it overtime. Our bedroom consisted of two worktables, computers, printers, telephone lines, broadband Internet connection, and tons of paper.

Working together, we faced a lot of struggles. It was difficult because you cannot terminate your spouse when he or she doesn’t meet your expectations!

Employees’ Problem, too

It was also difficult with our employees, as they have to decide between “He Says, She Says”, or face the consequences. A few Machiavellian employees sometimes played us against each other to their advantage.

I thought that always being together would allow us to share more good times, but that was far from what happened. Since both of us had key roles in the company, it was virtually impossible to take vacations without worrying.

It is not as easy as it looks, but we survived. Let me share how we did it:

• Know your strengths. This is so you can divide your work, and prevent tasks from overlapping. This also brings a clear understanding on who’s in charge of what. Designate positions to minimize confusion and clarify who is responsible for a task.

• Make it clear who makes the final decision. Decide on who is “The Real Boss.” Despite all the talk about equality, there comes a time when a major decision must be made.  When there is a tie, then one of you must have the authority to make the final decision.

• Respect each other. Even if you have opposing views, speak calmly and listen well. When you disagree, refrain from attacking each other on a personal level. On the other hand, you can also use this opportunity—as my wife and I did—to learn not to be sensitive to criticism.

• Separate personal from business finances. Be clear about money matters. Even if you are a co-owner of the business, discuss expenses with your spouse. Refrain from just getting money from the cash register, or issuing checks without the knowledge of your partner. Separate your business from your personal bank account.

• Be honest about your limitations. If you believe you are having difficulty with your responsibilities, admit it to your partner. Explain that your qualifications do not jive with your current work situations, if that is the case.

• Have quality time for each other. Do things apart from work. Allot time together for hobbies, and don’t forget about family. Just because you are always together doesn’t mean that you no longer need to have time for things other than business.

• Celebrate successes. Give importance to each other’s contribution by celebrating achievements. Never take things for granted. Even if you are together 24/7, treat each other for every milestone in your business.

My final piece of advice: if you don’t have a strong relationship with your spouse, don’t go into business together, especially if both of you have dominant personalities. It is not simple, and will just weigh down the marriage if you are already prone to arguing with each other. But if you love and treat each other with respect, I’m sure you’re both going to make it just fine. Good luck!

 

Business and management consultant Ruben Anlacan, Jr. is the president of  BusinessCoach, Inc. and a resource speaker for various business topics. He discusses overviews and tips for business from the point of view of a small- or medium-scale entrepreneur who has started several successful enterprises. Those who wish to ask questions or to make comments may visit http://entrepcoach.blogspot.com or e-mail entrepcoach@gmail.com.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Work Life: Ten Characteristics of Star Employees

(Originally published on August 10,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

 

By Jhoanna O. Gan-So

In the workplace, there will always be star employees who shine. These people are well-liked by their bosses. They reach their targets and accomplish notable achievements. They are star performers, which is why they get promoted faster than the rest of the staff. It’s pretty cool to be a star employee. So let’s all aspire to be one.

If you are currently employed, I’d like you to take a good look at yourself. From a scale of one to 10, 10 being the highest, how would you rate your general work performance? If you were your boss, would you point to yourself as a star employee?

If your answer is yes, then keep up the good work. Kudos to you! But if you are not quite there yet and would like to become one, let’s take a look at the qualities that separates star employees from the ordinary ones.

1. They are always present. Star Employees are always present physically, mentally and emotionally. This means that they have good attendance records. They understand that quantity affects quality of time—that no matter how brilliant you are, if you’re not present for work, then you can’t really do a good job. So they come to their place of work, alert and ready to face the challenges the day brings. They leave their personal issues and problems at the door, which allows them to focus on the job at hand.

2. They are results-oriented. When Star Employees are busy, they really are. They do not spend time doing meaningless tasks just to look busy. They actually do tasks they deem instrumental in helping them reach their goals. These people look at the end results all the time. They measure their performance with targets and actual results. For example, star sales officers know their sales targets by heart. They find the best use of their time that will get them the desired results.

3. They are self-reliant. Star employees do not need to be micromanaged. They require very little supervision as they are capable of making sensible decisions. They are not too dependent on their bosses or co-workers. Unlike some people who ask their bosses to solve everything and decide on the littlest of things, they are well-capable of managing themselves and dealing with everyday work issues. They are also self-motivated.

4. They are reliable. Star employees carry a sense of dependability about them. They look and act responsible. Bosses feel at ease assigning them to important projects because they are diligent and consistent with the quality of their work. They are steadfast, which is why they don’t make their bosses worry too much about project completions.

5. They are progressive. For most employees, change is difficult to swallow. They like doing things that they are comfortable with. They like things to be the way they are. Star employees, on the other hand, adapt well to change. In fact, they initiate it. They constantly look at how their work, the procedures and systems in their office can be improved. In the process, they find innovative solutions that increase their company’s  profits or generate huge savings for the company which their employers appreciate.

6. They give updates and don’t need to be reminded about what to do. Star employees are on top of things. Bosses often get frustrated with constantly reminding their subordinates about things they need to do and they often waste a lot of time following up on projects. Meanwhile, star employees get there first. They regularly update their bosses and teammates on what’s happening. You don’t have to ask them what’s up with a certain account, because chances are, they’ve already told you before you even thought of asking.

7. They can communicate with ease. When star employees talk to people, they are not tense and uptight. They communicate in a comfortable and enthusiastic manner that makes the other person feel immediately at ease. They can talk to bosses, co-workers, suppliers and customer in a conversational manner. They are naturally personable, which draws people to them.

8. They are confident. Many people equate confidence as being extroverted and outspoken. But not all star employees are made that way. There are many star employees who are quiet and not so gregarious. Confidence is about knowing who you are and your selfworth. Star employees know their capabilities and limitations. They courageously face challenges and are not afraid to seek assistance if needed.

9. They go the extra mile. What sets star employees apart from regular folks is they go further than what is expected. If they are expected to know a specific product of their company, they go the extra mile in learning the whole product line, the competitor ’s product, pricing and promos. If they are expected to reach a sales quota, they don’t stop upon reaching the quota. They go for more.

10. They are grateful Most important of all, star employees are grateful. They are not brats who feel entitled to all the benefits, rewards and incentives given by their company. Instead, they sincerely appreciate what is given to them. The reason they perform better than the rest and why bosses like them is because they value their jobs, their employers and colleagues.

Given the 10 characteristics above, take a look at yourself: which of these traits do you have? Which ones do you lack? Are you a star employee? Aspire to be a star employee because it’s pretty cool to be recognized and appreciated by your bosses and colleagues—not to mention the perks and rewards attached to it. Everyone has the capacity to become a star employee; all you have to do is hone yourself and build on the ten characteristics of a star employee.

 

 

Jhoanna O. Gan -So is president of Businessmaker Academy, HR Club Philippines and Teach It Forward Organization. Her company holds corporate skills training programs and HR seminars for various individuals and corporations. To know more about the  seminars and services that they offer, visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com or www.hrclubphilippines.com. You may also call (632)6874645 or e-mail your comments and questions to mbworklife@gmail.com.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

 

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