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Business Coach: Insights on Retail Location Hunting

(Originally published on July 31, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Ruben Anlacan Jr.

I recently wrote an article (archived at http://www.businesscoachphil.com/finding-the-bestlocation-for-your-retail-business) on how to look for a good retail location, but due to space constraints there were many vital considerations that were not discussed.

For the benefit of those who want to know more about choosing a retail location, we will go deeper into the other factors:

• Know what type of goods you are selling. While location is a vital element in any retail establishment, its degree of importance depends on the type of goods sold. Convenience items like groceries need to be very accessible since buyers are unlikely to travel far to buy these type of goods. On the other hand, “shopping” type of goods like clothing and furniture are usually canvassed and compared so people may spend more time and effort looking for the items.

• Pick the far corner lot. We all know that a corner lot is more desirable than an inside lot because it is more visible and has more frontage, but since there are four corners in an intersection you must know which corner is the most desirable. Generally, it is the corner to the right after crossing the intersection that is more attractive. This concept is crucial to apply if your store is relying on vehicular traffic for a significant portion of your sales.

• Know what the past tenant was paying. Even if you know the going rental rate for a location, it is a good idea to find out what the former tenant was paying. If it turns out that the last tenant was paying far below the going rate, you could use that fact in negotiating for your rental. It would not hurt your bargaining position and you may get lucky especially if the landlord is in a hurry to have the place rented.

• Know if the franchisor wants to get the site for himself/herself. If after submitting your proposed site to a franchisor you receive rejection in a couple of days, then you must worry if the franchisor is after your site. It is highly unlikely that the franchisor had already properly assessed your site in the span of two days.

• The role of frontage. All retails stores will benefit from a larger frontage, but a counter type operation will need a bigger frontage than a self-service operation. In a counter type retail store, it is more advantageous to double the frontage than to double the store area.

• Store size in itself is a traffic magnet. Consumers believe that the larger the store the better assortment it has and the more reliable it is. We learned this the hard way when we drastically reduced the floor area of a drugstore branch to save on rental. However, after one year, while we did not reduce our inventory, sales fell by almost half.

• Study census data. This information can be gathered from the National Statistics Office (NSO). Find out the population, income and other data in your location that may help you have a better idea of your market.

• Use Google Maps. This is a website by Google wherein you can get an actual satellite view of your site. Previously, only large companies could get an aerial view by hiring a helicopter or plane. Much of what they obtained at a prohibitive cost then you can now get for free. There are so many things you can learn from studying your potential location in Google maps. You can see both customer generators, obstacles and other useful data that you may miss on foot.

• Check if there are zoning problems. Do not be complacent just because the previous tenant or owner of the site was able to operate the same business, they may have clout with the local authorities or their operation was tolerated because it has been there for a long time.

• Factor in the cost of renovation. Often you will find a location that seems amazingly cheap, but it is just an unfinished shell. The cost of fixing and furnishing the place may greatly exceed the savings from the lower rent. Furthermore, there may be some specifications (like the need to use tempered glass) that you must comply with that will jack up your projected budget.

• Walk around the property in all the different locations. Allocate several days to walking around your prospective site. This will allow you to have a better feel for the place and you will learn many things that will not show up in a market research report.

• Ask people that may be in position to know about the site. Be resourceful and interview suppliers of the past tenant. Strike a conversation with people who see the place everyday, like the sales clerks in the adjoining store, and ask about the number of people patronizing the place. One very successful food entrepreneur even interviewed a garbage collector of a restaurant to gauge how strong their sales were!

• Make sure you are signing up with the owner of the site or his/her authorized representative. Ask around the neighborhood to verify ownership. You can even check with the register of deeds in city hall to confirm that you are dealing with the right party.

Do not be too shy to ask for the proper identification since you will be giving out a substantial amount of money.

Location is the most important decision in most retails stores because reversing a mistake is extremely costly or impossible. Spending more time and effort to choose the best location must not be considered an expense, but instead view it as an investment with a very high rate of return.

 

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.)

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Success Wizard: Lessons in Money Management-Why Lotto Winners are Still Broke

By Jordan Patente

(Originally published on July 27, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

My great grandmother passed away four years ago. She left us with her six-digit combinations of lotto numbers. I still remember stories about her leaving the house without notifying anyone that she was betting on the lotto. That’s how devoted my 96-year-old granny was on getting that jackpot. Just like every Juan, she, too, had plans on spending the millions. Whenever there was an opportunity, Lola would tell me she’d

Lessons in Money Management:

Why Lotto Winners are Still Brokedistribute half of the amount to all her grandchildren to guarantee them a better future, and the other half would go to my account (my relatives claim that I’m the favorite grandson). It sounded like a good plan, but she left us without winning the jackpot.

Once, I tried my hand at fulfilling Lola’s lotto dreams. I gambled on her numbers, hoping that she would guide me in getting the jackpot. A local network’s show about a lotto winner’s life story influenced me to do it. In the show I saw scenes of family members claiming the jackpot from their departed loved one’s lottery ticket. Unfortunately, their fortune was not mine. I never won it.

Who doesn’t want a better future for their family? But I’m sure you have heard of jackpot winners who are now broke. Before winning, they only owed a couple of thousands to their friends and relatives, and several years after winning multimillion jackpots they are indebted to major financial institutions. Just like Lola, they shared their fortune with their family, relatives and friends. Most of them invested their money in buying mansions and luxury vehicles. Some invested their money in businesses.

What Went Wrong?

Winning the lotto is parallel to winning multi-million contests and competitions. Most international boxers before Manny Pacquiao are still broke. Some of the famous celebrities had the same fortune, but are now in financial turmoil. Money is not the answer to our financial problems: it’s how we manage it.

Money Management

Money management is an organized way of protecting your money in aspects like investing, budgeting and banking. You can’t just spend that jackpot money freely without caution. Do so and you will soon end up broke.

Most of us act thirsty and want to consume money whenever we have it in our possession. I call it “payday sickness.” I know a lot of colleagues who spend the bulk of their hard earned money on payday. Payday sickness is a clear indication of not valuing money. For money to stay and be loyal to you, you have to value it. Make it feel important and respected. If this is your habit with regard to payroll money, you will most likely do the same with the Lotto jackpot.

With money management, you have to start with ways to multiply that money before you spend it. Sharing your fortune with your family, relatives and friends is not a bad thing—you just have to do it systematically. Most gratuities are temporary. They, too, will let go of that money easily. Help them invest and spend it wisely.

What I would do in that situation is to share with them a minimal amount and then buy a franchise or open up a business. Stocks will be shared with them. It will not be easy money for everyone. They have to wait for it to bear fruit, before they can enjoy it. Its long-term effect, however, will benefit all of us and teach them proper money management in the process.

Mansions and Luxury Cars

I’ve always envisioned living in a mansion. I want it modern, with glass walls, and I want a huge garage housing my top-down convertibles and high-tech RVs (recreational vehicles). Winning the jackpot can make these visions a reality. But it’s just that those are not my priorities. Instead I will settle for a humble house and a multi-purpose vehicle. The world’s third wealthiest man Warren Buffett (“Forbes” magazine, March 2011 issue) still lives in his 1957 five-bedroom stucco house inOmaha,United States. He remains humble even with his immense.

 

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.)

Business Coach: What Comes After Your Retirement

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

By Ruben Anlacan Jr.

You may be getting a big sum of money on your retirement and all of your kids would have already finished college by then. What are your plans after retiring? Do you want to travel? Do you want to buy an expensive car? Do you want to renovate your house?

You may dream of several ways to spend your retirement money, but you still want to think carefully about what’s best for your future. Perhaps you would want to keep your “nest egg” in the bank, where it would earn at best two to three percent per annum. But think again, because that percentage is nothing when compared to inflation rate.

If you are about to retire, there are many career options for you. I suggest you leave your retirement money alone for now (you may live longer than you think) as there are opportunities waiting out there. Even if you were able to prepare and have enough savings to last your lifetime, it’s not yet time to buy that rocking chair. You can find so many things to do, and some of the choices may help bring more happiness to your life.

There are people who still want to work after retirement. For reasons like money, socialization, health, or for sanity’s sake, people choose to pursue a new career after their retirement. But before you join the bandwagon, ask yourself these questions: What do I want to do? How much money do I have? How much time can I allocate for work? Do I have the strength and the will to start a new venture? Only then can you decide on your career choices.

In deciding, always think towards what would make you happy. If you prefer to stay at home and be the doting lolo or lola, then do so.

I asked around and found that most retirees prefer to look for something to do after leaving the workforce. They feel that they would just end up weak or sickly when doing nothing. In fact, this is the belief of Malcolm S. Forbes, owner and publisher of “Forbes” magazine. Forbes says, “Retirement kills more people than hard work ever did.”

Here are options you may consider:

• Be a consultant. According to a survey by Merrill Lynch, offering consultancy is the number one choice of retiring employees. You have already mastered your craft from your many years of experience that imparting your expertise can earn you big bucks. If you have just recently retired from work, you are still updated about current trends and events in your previous industry. Whether you’re from accounting, logistics, the academe, sales or marketing, consulting jobs are a good career option.

• Ask a former employer if you can work freelance. If you are a good salesperson, then ask your former boss if you can still bring clients, no longer under payroll, but with sales commissions. This may be smaller than what you were previously receiving, but it is better to be doing what you are already familiar with.

• Submit articles for publication or write a book. Put your knowledge and experiences into writing. Share your wisdom and get paid. Contact publishing houses or website owners, and give them a sample of your work. If you have sufficient capital, you may also opt to put up your own publishing company. This is a good source of money, and a legacy to your family as well.

• Turn your hobbies into a fortune. If you love photography, you can ask friends and relatives to contract you for your services. If you know how to play the guitar, you can want to give guitar lessons to your neighbors. If you love gardening, you can grow plants and sell them for profit.

• Go back to school. You might need this if you want to venture into a different field. This will not only help you gain new knowledge, but also give you opportunity to network with people who might help you land a job or project.

• Train or teach. There are institutions that would acquire your services if you have proven yourself to be an expert in your field.

• Start a business. This need not be big. You may opt to put up a small sari-sari store in your garage, or a food cart in a high-traffic area. If you have sufficient capital, you may also choose to start something bigger. Just make sure you have a business plan and conduct feasibility studies to determine the marketability of your products or services.

Don’t be afraid of retirement. Welcome the idea of finally being able to pursue your unrealized dreams. You can still be active and busy. And for the younger generation, plan your retirement. Start saving, invest wisely, and most of all, stay in the best of health. With sufficient preparation, your retirement years can be the best years of your life.

 

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.)

On Making the Big Switch

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

If you’ve been thinking of shifting careers for some time now, purchasing a small (or big!) business franchise is a great way to go

By Tricia V. Morente

 

With entrepreneurship driving a huge chunk of the economy’s growth these days, more and more people are suddenly finding the merits of putting up one’s own business over working as an employee in the corporate world.

For some, this life-changing decision happens in their 40s—an important time for people to reflect on their careers and whether or not they still want to stay on the same course, or make a change. Such is the case of Atty. Ann Cabochan, a Binalot franchisee and the director of the Bureau of International Trade Relations of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). “I’ve always thought of myself as a professional lawyer and not an entrepreneur,” begins Cabochan, “but when my husband constructed a building with commercial spaces and eventually asked me to run it, I got to experience managing a small business. It was like a natural progression of events and things just falling into place—and suddenly I realized I was ready to manage a new venture.”

With very little experience in business to speak of, Cabochan and her husband decided that franchising a food business was the best bet for their success. So began their experience with growing their own Binalot branch—one of the most successful franchises in the country today.

Why Franchise?

The beauty about starting a franchise business is that you are in business for yourself, but not by yourself. Buying a franchise can be a rewarding business decision, and is the perfect option for someone who wants to enter the business world without the risks that come with starting one’s own business.

Creating a business operations model from scratch, and then implementing it through trial and error can be very time consuming and unproductive. But franchises have business models that are already developed and ready to be utilized. Binalot, for one, already has its fair share of success, which is why owner Rommel Juan is looking to expand into other areas by selling the Binalot brand and concept to franchisees.

Unlike the Cabochans, former collection officer Irell G. Perez already knew that he wanted to run his own business. He just wasn’t ready yet. “When I first started my own business, I wasn’t totally prepared and ready. I didn’t feel confident enough to go out on my own,” shares Perez, “so I thought that the most practical option was for me to look for a franchise that has the expertise and equipment, and can guide me in running a business.”

There are certainly lone wolf entrepreneurs who can go at it alone and do just fine. But for most newbie business owners and career-shifters, franchising not only gives them the technical assistance and troubleshooting support, it also provides the opportunity to communicate with other owners to learn best practices and exchange ideas.

It’s exactly what happened to Binalot Alphaland Southgate franchisee Annalyn Sayat. Exhausted from working as an employee for a big company, Sayat wanted to be her own boss. But being a newbie in the business arena, Sayat says that she wanted to make sure that her investment would be spent wisely. “I didn’t have the technical know-how of running a business,” she admits, “especially with Human Resource and Accounting. It’s why I opted for a franchise that already has a solid system and structure.” Being with Binalot, she adds, helped her to be more analytical when it comes to her decision-making. “You get to talk to your fellow franchisees, and you get reliable advice because you’re in the same line of business.”

Choosing the right investment

Initiating a career change by purchasing a business franchise definitely has a lot of major benefits. But keep in mind that there is a downside to purchasing a franchise—and that’s if you choose the wrong one to buy. It is essential to conduct a comprehensive analysis of each option you are considering and identify the key weaknesses that may compromise your efforts down the road.

“You really have to do your own research about the company, their system, the location, everything,” advises Sayat. “You also have to do the math because everything will depend on that. And finally, give it your all and the rest is up to God,” she adds.

Choose a product that you truly believe in, adds Perez. “The reason I chose a food franchise was because I, for one, love to eat,” he says, “and when a friend told me about Binalot, I researched about their products, benefits, and read feedback from previous franchisees. Eventually, I decided to go with the company because I believed in the product, their expertise, and the opportunities they’ve provided for me to learn and grow their business.”

Don’t invest in a franchise with your eyes closed, injects Cabochan. “My husband noticed how brisk business was for one of the Binalot stores in theMakaticentral business district. He frequented the mall where it was located, coming at different hours of the day, and different days of the week. We ate a few times in the store, trying something different each time, and we were convinced that it was value for money.”

The moment you decide to invest in Binalot, or any franchise for that matter, choose to take an active role in running the business. “Undergo the same training for store supervisors just to familiarize yourself with the system and intricacies of the business,” advises Cabochan. “Take an active role especially at the start and be sure you have someone trustworthy to look after the store when you’re busy or abroad. And don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

At the end of the day, the success and sustainability of a new business venture—whether a franchise or not—will always be a result of the entrepreneur’s pro-active role in the enterprise. “Starting my own business made me realize that there is no limit to one’s potentials as long as you put your heart into it,” Cabochan shares. “I never thought I was capable of running a sustainable business, but luckily enough, I proved myself wrong.”

 

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

Business Coach: Best Way to Motivate People

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

By Ruben Anlacan Jr.

Motivating people is a primary concern of business owners and managers. Whether the enterprise is a small retail store or a billion-dollar multinational, what will make the crucial difference is the people running the daily operations. But even with this basic rule of thumb, many managers keep making the same blunders in their approach.

The reasons for lack of motivation stem from countless sources, and this is what makes it so challenging. Since there are a number of causes for low morale, there should be a corresponding variety of solutions. However, managers tend to rely on a limited repertoire of responses that are often inappropriate for the problems. Below are some ideas that may serve to help improve your motivation efforts:

• Foreign fads and formulas rarely work unless modified. There is a strong tendency for managers to read the latest so-called solutions, immediately believing that it is the panacea to all their motivational problems. This is seldom the case, and usually the expense and disturbance it causes far outweighs the benefits. Every system must be adapted to your particular situation and extra care must be taken for it to fit our local culture.

• Motivational talks only have a short-term value. If you are the type of manager who believes the sole way to motivate workers is to have a pep talk from time to time, then mend your ways. This technique must be combined with more lasting measures to provide a complete solution; although in critical situations this is very useful.

• Some motivators may no longer be effective. What motivates people changes over time. A bonus of P1,000 may have thrilled employees years ago, but it takes several times that amount to get the same level of enthusiasm now. Get regular feedback from employees to gauge past programs.

• Consider that people have varying motivators. I know of a pharmaceutical company that had a poll among its hundreds of employees on where to spend their multimillion peso budgeted Christmas party. The result was a wide variety of preferences. Some wanted to give it to charity; others wanted it given as a cash bonus; and there were the traditionalists who wanted to spend it all on the Christmas party. The lesson here is that you must not assume that everyone wants the same thing. Prior consultation with employees before implementation would prevent gross blunders.

• Know how to properly use cash as a motivator. Cash is the most potent motivator—given enough cash, most people would do anything you ask. However, it has its limits. There is a point where it is no longer cost-effective. Know how to properly utilize the two types of cash compensation:

• Fixed compensation. This is the most important motivator for people to accept the job, but it is not an effective incentive to improve performance in the long term. You may be offering a higher than average compensation, but this is soon taken for granted. Nevertheless the level of fixed pay is important to attract talent. You must be willing to give at least the industry going rate in order to hire qualified personnel.

• Variable compensation. When you associate the amount of pay to performance like sales targets, a strong motivation kicks in. This method is most effective in functions where the outputs are easily measured, like in sales jobs. However, this is very difficult to apply in situations where the output is not easily measured or attributed. For example, a manager may be able to show an increase in profits by cutting corners, like sacrificing quality or postponing maintenance work. These managers hope that by the time the effects of these poor policies become evident, they will probably be in another position.

• The values of benefits are relative to what others are getting. Monitor what other companies are giving to their employees because, fair or not, there will be comparisons. A P10,000 bonus may seem generous, but if a similar-sized company in your industry is giving P20,000, then you cannot expect a cheerful reaction.

• The most cost-effective motivator is to give people more opportunities to make use of their abilities and to grow professionally. Providing a way for people to exercise more of their talents builds feelings of self-esteem and may even save on costs. This also encourages further improvement of their skills. A program to develop the delegation skills of managers will boost efforts to bring this about.

Motivate people will always be one of the core issues of managers and entrepreneurs. There will be no final book on this topic because by the time the book is written, the best companies have moved on to fresher ways to drive the enthusiasm of their workforce. The best way to inspire your people is to constantly be on the lookout for the best ways to motivating your workforce.

 

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: Dealing with a Bully Boss

By Jordan Willy Patente

(Originally published on July 13, 2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

You are being offered your dream job: a generous compensation package, terrific benefits, and supportive office colleagues. It’s almost the perfect opportunity, except that your future boss is a tyrant and a bully. Are you taking it?

You can only hope to get this offer every time you sign up for a new job. In most cases, it’s already too late to back out and you will have to face your worst nightmare.

Who would have thought that juvenile bullying will reach the corporate world? The truth is that bully bosses can be found in abundance.

It’s becoming common in almost every industry. There are bosses who are mind-controlling abusers, demanding perfectionists and slave drivers. There are obnoxious bully bosses who rule by intimidation, insisting on achieving goals their way. They treat subordinates like children and seldom ask for anyone’s input.

Studies indicate that bullies are clumsy people with such rage against themselves that they express this outward, toward people they see as being better than they are. It’s from a point of weakness that they express violence toward others.

Life with a bully boss is dreadful. You need to continuously motivate yourself to perform and your health will go down the drain. If you are in this situation, I have two options for you: work it out with your boss or leave.

I’ll start with the easiest option: leave. If you can’t bear the situation, just leave and look for a new company. It’s that easy. Millions of companies are waiting for you to be part of their elite team. You’ve worked hard to be where you are now and you don’t deserve to be maltreated.

However, the drawback of moving on as soon as you’ve recognized that your boss is a tyrant and that he’s picking on you is that you don’t get to learn life’s valued lessons.

Your second option is to work it out with your boss. One of life’s goals is to achieve mastery of one’s Self; and this will only occur if you allow yourself to learn from every event presented to you. Working with your boss to improve the situation will benefit you more than him. Helping your boss improve his life is just one of the many effects of your personal development.

Walking away from a bully boss does not guarantee you won’t meet another just like him. Turning your back is just a band-aid solution to the situation. To get the most out of the odd situation, consider the following strategies in dealing with a tyrant boss:

Bullying will only happen if you allow it. No one else is responsible for your life and all the things that happen to it. You can’t blame your boss for giving you that treatment. Who gave him the authority to treat you like that? Analyze your responses—Sam Horn, author of “Take the Bully by the horns,” says that bullies prey on the easiest targets.

“Bullies will pick on the nice people,” Horn says. “They throw their stuff out there and test to see if they can knock you off balance, fluster you. If you are weak or just swallow it, the bully owns you,” he says.

The second strategy could help you avoid becoming a target:

Be confident. Having the right amount of self-esteem will push him away. Send signals that you will not tolerate lunacy from him. Your appearance plays an important role, so dress up and broadcast a positive attitude. Rhonda Byrne, author of “The Secret” says: “like attracts like.” If you are feeling good about yourself, you will only attract good things to happen to you.

Be logical in your approach. Be methodical in how you behave, perform, and strategize. Stay unemotional. Even though he is trying to make you think the opposite, it is the bully who has a serious personal and professional problem, not you.

Your boss is sure to have soft spots, and you may want to touch on that. Your boss has set standards that if met, will spare you from bullying. He’ll consider you an asset rather than a liability.

Communication is key. Everything happens for a reason. Your boss’ actions have stories behind it. Understanding and respecting his past will give you a clearer picture of the situation.

Some bosses think that it’s lonely up there; they feel that no one supports and encourages them. They, too, are humans and hungry for recognition. If your boss has moments of sanity, try to talk with him about the effect his actions and verbal abuse have on you and your work. Keep the focus of your comments on the boss’ behavior and its effects, not on the boss personally.

Some bosses like spreading rumors in the workplace. Tell bullies as little as possible about your life, family, friends, hobbies, interests, religion, and so on. Information about you gives them power. Being friends with a bully boss should be the least of your priorities, but having a professional relationship with him is desirable.

If you feel that you have exerted all efforts to reach out but your situation has not improved, then consider the first option and look for a new job. Life is a choice and we could only do so much to help the people around us. Your physical and mental health should not be sacrificed to keep the boss and the company happy.

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.)

Beginner’s Guide to Project Management

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

How a major project is handled can either make or break a person’s career—and even his company’s fortune. Unfortunately, many of those new to project management are left to “sink or swim” with insufficient guidance. While in developed nations many people engage in formal training in project management, here in thePhilippinesvirtually all project managers learn about project management on the job.

To be able to grasp the essentials of project management, you must know its definition: a project is a temporary undertaking with a defined beginning and an ending, done to meet unique objectives. Its transient nature means projects are not part of operations that are repetitive work to produce products or services.

While reading this article will not make you an instant expert, the basic ideas of project management listed below would be very helpful in guiding the beginner:

• Clarify the project objectives and requirements. You must document precisely what the project seeks to attain, as well as its constraints. Establish the deadline for completion, the budget, and the quality standards. You must consult with all the departments or persons that will be affected or needed to complete the project. Things like possible legal impediments must be ironed out. A lot of brainstorming and negotiation occurs in this stage. Getting the support of internal and external stakeholders is also important for a project’s success.

• Create the project plan supported by using the appropriate planning tools. Before beginning, you must create a detailed plan. Get detailed cost estimates and setup milestones to monitor progress. Tasks must be arranged in the proper order and the dependencies (a task that must be finished before another task is done) noted. In doing this, it is impossible to organize a project properly without the use of planning tools. There are dozens of possible tools, but there are some that are commonly used. One is the Gantt chart, a type of bar chart that illustrates a project schedule. For better control, the more sophisticated tools often used is the Critical Path Method (CPM) and Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT); these enable you to apply additional resources to relieve bottle necks that delay the whole project.

• Prepare for contingencies. Plan for problems that may be encountered. Build on some slack into your time schedule in order to mitigate the inevitable delays that will result from unforeseen events. Besides the extra time needed, you must also have some allowance in the budget for emergencies that will need additional expenditures.

• Submit timely and well written Project Status Reports. Study how to make project status reports for your superiors. Find out if there is already a prescribed format or precedent before coming up with your own. Reports should be as short as possible without missing important details. Avoid using jargon that may not be understandable to all those who may read your reports. Report if progress is on schedule and being done within the budget. Also, keep copies of your report for future reference.

Effective project management is extremely important and you must try to learn as much as possible to avoid costly mistakes.

To learn more about this important function you may call (2) 727-5628/8860 or e-mail businesscoachphil@gmail.com for details.

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Work Your Way Up the Corporate Ladder in ForMe Pieces

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

 

Dressing has always been one of the best avenues for the imagination to play, and the result is a proportioned reflection of an individual’s personality. But with the hectic life that the metro provides, dressing to impress has become a dilemma of every woman. The woman of today is career and goal-oriented; she works hard and plays on how she feels she deserves, and this woman is in search of clothes that will cater to her very needs, from coffee to cocktails, from office to a night of social interaction. And ForMe, the country’s premiere female fashion brand, strives to provide. A staple in the retail industry since 2004, ForMe has recently made significant improvements to not only its latest collection but overall brand image. Currently known for its classic, laid back pieces, new initiatives of ForMe focus on “Celebrating Women” as the brand expands its merchandise to deliver more diverse and stylish pieces.

For more information, visit http://www.forme.com.ph.

 

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Back to School with Omnicom

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

The Omnicom Media Group (OMG) Philippines resumed its “U@OMG” classes earlier this month. This is the third consecutive year that the agency, known for its insight driven and pioneering business solutions (through its media outlets, OMD and PHD), opened its doors to a new batch of hopefuls, who have the makings demanded of a successful career in advertising.  Initiated back in 2009, U@OMG was the brainchild of the company’s  CEO and President, Hermie de Leon, who envisioned it to be an in-house scholastic mechanism anchored on the principle of continuous education, wherein promising young talents are instructed, rigorously trained, and immersed into the insides and depths of the media industry.

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Work Life: Effective Motivation

 The Nice Stuff Works Better

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

By: Jhoanna O. Gan-So 

Bosses have different ways of motivating employees to improve their performance.

Smart ones use several methods of reward and punishment and adjust their approach according to circumstances.

In my experience, I have found that rewards and punishments are equally effective depending on the situation and the type of people you manage. But in general, people respond more to rewards, incentives, promotions, recognition and all the nice stuff. Occasionally, however, punishments or “threats” may be warranted; but using these can become counter-productive and dangerous, too. If you threaten and put people down often enough, they might get paralyzed by fear and begin to lose focus. Instead of finding ways to improve performance, they might get caught up with just fighting the perceived threat.

Such is the case of a reader of mine:

I’ve been connected for two years to a real estate company as an AVP in Marketing. My position gives me a basic living subsidy, over-ride commissions and the use of the company vehicle. In the previous year, I used to be no. 3 among the 15 Marketing Directors. At times, I would even be no. 1 and no. 2. But two months ago, my Marketing Directors were transferred to another group. Hence, I am now in survival mode and currently at no. 3 among four AVPs. My concern is that our EVP has been threatening to dissolve our group if we don’t increase sales. As a result, we have been under tremendous pressure for the past few months. Although I am determined to fight, the threats are becoming worse. What should I do?—Threatened Abe

My response:

From a relational perspective, it would be great if you can talk to your EVP and calmly explain to him that you understand how critical sales is for the company and that you are doing many things to increase sales. However, his approach (or “threat of dissolution”) is becoming counterproductive to your sales team’s morale. Point out gently that you would appreciate it very much if he tries a different approach. You need to do this in such a way that he won’t feel offended or alienated by you.

From an emotional perspective, it would be great if you can find some sort of stress release. I know Sales is highly stressful since you have quotas to reach. Two of our own company’s top sales people actually had a very difficult time getting the numbers the beginning of this year and it almost paralyzed them. To solve the problem, one of them opened up to management and sought support. The other one took a short retreat to reenergize herself. With the help of our Mancomm and some smart changes in their sales routine, things eventually improved and they are back on track.

From an HR perspective, I think it’s wise to revisit the Employment Contract you signed with the company, as well as the company policies for Termination as it pertains to Sales People. Much of your protection will come from what type of employment you have, the provisions in your contract, the HR policies and processes in your company and the Philippine Labor Laws. Since a sales job is highly quantitative, much will be based on your sales results. Normally, verbal warnings are the first steps for disciplinary action. Written warnings carry more weight and these are actually needed for an employer to terminate employees if due process is to be followed.

Meanwhile, I think it’s not too late yet. You still have your job. The real estate industry has been booming for the past few years. You can still focus and concentrate on generating more sales, despite the threat.

Motivating Employees

I wish I could talk to Mr. Abe’s boss and point out that his “threatening” approach is de-motivating his people. But since I do not really know him, allow me to use this column to reach out to similar bosses out there.

Fear is a potent tool. Its powers can motivate people to move, but it could just as easily demoralize people. I personally would only use it as a last resort.

The job of every boss is not just about pushing people to do what they want. Great bosses take the time to understand what drives their people and figure out what buttons to push to positively impact their subordinates. They also arm their people with the means and tools to let them achieve their goals. They push, encourage, guide and support others to be great at what they do.

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, you may visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com orwww.hrclubphilippines.com. You may also call (632)6874645. E-mail your comments and questions to: mbworklife@gmail.com.

 

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