Saturday, December 25, 2010

Today's U.S.A News

A prominent forecaster, Mark Zandi of Moody’s, predicted that the economy would be “off and running” next year. “The policy response, in its totality, has been very aggressive,” he said, “and I think ensures that the recovery will evolve into a self-sustaining expansion early in 2011.”
The recession officially ended in June 2009, when the economy started to grow again. Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of the country’s output, grew at an annualized rate of 3.7 percent in the first quarter of this year. But then it stalled, with the rate falling to a mere 1.7 percent in the second quarter and 2.6 percent in the third quarter.
Jan Hatzius, the chief United States economist at Goldman Sachs, said the economy was likely to grow at an annualized rate of around 3 percent this quarter. Goldman projected last week that the growth rate would be 4 percent for most of 2011. Morgan Stanley, which raised its growth forecast for 2011 to 4 percent, is even more optimistic, forecasting a rate of 4.5 percent this quarter

Today's U.S.A News

Tax incentives It is also trying to address one of the biggest impediments to the recovery — the reluctance of companies to invest their piles of cash in new plants and equipment — by granting tax incentives for business investment.
The measured optimism is reminiscent of the mood a year ago, when the economy seemed to be reviving, only to stall again in the spring amid widespread fears caused by the debt crisis in Greece and other European countries.
Even so, economists are increasingly upbeat about the outlook, saying that while the economy in 2011 will not be strong enough to drive unemployment down significantly, it should put the United States on its soundest footing since the financial crisis started an economic tailspin three years ago.
Phillip L. Swagel, who was the Treasury Department’s chief economist during the administration of George W. Bush and teaches at the University of Maryland, said, “The recovery in 2011 will be strong enough for us to see sustained job creation that will finally give Americans a tangible sense of an improving economy.”

Today's U.S.A News

The Federal Reserve, which has kept short-term interest rates near zero since the end of 2008, has made clear it is sticking by its controversial decision to try to hold down mortgage and other long-term interest rates by buying government securities.
President Obama’s $858 billion tax-cut compromise with Congressional Republicans is putting more cash in the hands of consumers through a temporary payroll-tax cut and an extension of unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed.

What Will Happen As Baby Boomers Hit Retirement Age?

Baby Boomers Approach Age 65 - Glumly - The Philadelphia Bulletin

The "Age Wave" is about to hit retirement. Baby boomers, from the very beginning, have changed the world as they hit various stages of life. Some describe this as sort of like the bump a pig makes as it is being swallowed by a python.

We saw this Age Wave prompt the building of hospitals, baby food, elementary schools, and sports shoes. Nearly everything you can think of has been touched by the expanding demand of the baby boomer age wave.

In just a few days, the first baby boomers will turn 65, the traditional retirement age. Many things about how baby boomers think will make a mark on retirement as well. According to this research by the Pew Research Center, one week from today baby boomers will start turning 65 at the rate of 10,000 a day for the next 19 years.

Answers to questions in this study point us to some of the changes we can expect in the future. Baby boomers don't think 65 is old. Baby boomers want to have more control of their lives. These are some of the factors already pointing to the emerging trend of baby boomers quitting their "day jobs" and becoming entrepreneurs. This is resulting from a desire to have a change from traditional retirement.

If you are a baby boomer, if you are someone who wants to sell to baby boomers, you may want to read this report. It is likely to point you to needs that will have to be filled over the next two decades. Filling needs is the sweet spot in life for entrepreneurs. You might even be inspired to join the baby boomer entrepreneurs.


Today's U.S.A News

months after the recession officially ended, the government’s latest measures to bolster the economy have led many forecasters and policy makers to express new optimism that the recovery will gain substantial momentum in 2011.
Economists in universities and on Wall Street have raised their growth projections for next year. Retail sales, industrial production and factory orders are on the upswing, and new claims for unemployment benefits are trending downward. Despite persistently high unemployment, consumer confidence is improving. Large corporations are reporting healthy profits, and the Dow Jones industrial average reached a two-year high this week

World economy can withstand $100 oil price: Kuwait

As demand has risen steeply in 2010 and is expected to rise further in 2011, the market is watching closely whether OPEC can release at least some of its spare capacity to prevent prices from soaring to around $150 per barrel as they did before the crisis struck in summer 2008. OPEC's most influential oil minister, Saudi Arabia's Ali al-Naimi, said on Friday he was still happy with an oil price of $70-80 a barrel and there was no need for an extra OPEC meeting before the next scheduled one in June.
Others in the group have been pressing for a higher price, arguing that quantitative easing and a weakened U.S. dollar that spurred gains across financial markets mean the oil price strength is partly nominal.
Egyptian Oil Minister Sameh Fahmy said the current increase in oil prices was the result of higher demand on heating fuel because of the cold weather in Europe.
United Arab Emirates Oil Minister Mohammed al-Hamli said crude oil inventories are "quite high. It's the highest over the five years average... The market is well supplied."

World economy can withstand $100 oil price: Kuwait

Iraq's new oil minister and the head of Libya's National Oil Corporation both told Reuters that $100 was a fair price, while Qatar's Minister Abdullah al-Attiyah said he did not expect OPEC to increase production in 2011.
"I do not expect an OPEC meeting before June because oil prices are stable," he said.
Some delegates even called for exporters to comply better with agreed production limits. OPEC members' compliance with promised cutbacks reached 56 percent in November, according to Reuters estimates.
When asked if output could be raised, Kuwait's Sheikh Ahmad said: "No. More compliance, more compliance."
The Cairo meeting of the Organization of Arab Exporting Countries (OAPEC) brought together Arab members of OPEC including top exporter Saudi Arabia, which has traditionally been viewed as a price moderate, as well as non-OPEC countries Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Bahrain.
OPEC cut output drastically after the global financial crisis struck in 2008 to prop up collapsing oil prices.

World economy can withstand $100 oil price: Kuwait

Analysts have said oil producing countries are likely to raise output after crude rallied more than 30 percent from a low in May because they fear prices could damage economic growth in fuel importing countries.
European benchmark ICE Brent crude for February closed at $93.46 on Friday after hitting $94.74 a barrel, its highest level since October 2008.
Arab oil exporters meeting in Cairo this weekend said they saw no need to supply more crude as stocks were high and prices had been inflated temporarily by cold weather in Europe.
Asked by Reuters if the world economy could stand a $100 oil price, Kuwaiti Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Abdullah al-Sabah said: "Yes it can."

Airlines sell 1.84 lakh tickets in 15 hours

New Delhi: Airfares have soared this December but that has not stopped holiday travel. Domestic Airlines clocked a new record this Christmas, selling 1.84 lakh tickets on Friday.
This is a 20 per cent rise over last year.
Jet Airways sold the maximum, with over 36,000 tickets. Kingfisher followed with over 32,000 tickets. Low cost airlines also saw good sales. Even Go Air managed to sell over 10,000 tickets.

Airlines sell 1.84 lakh tickets in 15 hours

The global economy can withstand an oil price of $100 a barrel, Kuwait's oil minister said on Saturday, as other exporters indicated OPEC may decide against increasing output through 2011 as the market was well supplied
Experts say they expected sales to rise but the record number has surprised many, considering the negative publicity because of the high fares.
Airlines say those who had booked for holidays to Europe canceled out due to the snowstorms and chose a domestic holiday, which added to the numbers.
Airlines say that most of the sectors are completely booked. Tourist destinations in Rajasthan, Kerala and Goa are seeing the maximum bookings.

IT firms to pay compensation to 9/11 victims

India has written to the US on the visa fee hike issue. Commerce Minister Anand Sharma wrote to US Trade Representative Ronald Kirk on December 22 affirming India's stance that the matter has caused considerable apprehension and concern to the business community of the country.
Sharma had earlier raised the issue when the bill HR 6080 was passed by the Congress. Such provisions have resulted in considerable public outcry in India. Obama, during his recent visit to India, had agreed to cut trade barriers and reject protectionism.

IT firms to pay compensation to 9/11 victims

New Delhi: India has slammed the US move to impose a new tax that makes Indian IT companies like Infosys, TCS and wipro fund the compensation package for victims of 9/11.
The James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act, 2010 proposes higher visa fees and is under consideration in the US congress. The Act has 'pay for' provisions which propose higher visa fees for H1B and L1 visas. The Act also proposes imposition of a 2% fee on goods and services imported by the US government.
The bill will raise $ 4.2 billion and comes into effect next July. The firms say its a protectionist move, India calls it a 'retrograde step' in trade relations

Lahore Pakistan News:

Onion prices went down in Lahore markets due to import of the commodity from Sindh. In wholesale markets, onion was being sold at Rs 40 per kg.
According to market sources, price of the commodity has seen decline during last few days, and import from Sindh is told to be main cause of the decrease. Price of onion is recorded at Rs 50 per kg in retail markets. Onion is being exported to India at Rs 32 per kg while traders are preferring local market due to high price.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Seasons Greetings

Enjoy the Christmas story told through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, Google Maps, GMail, Foursquare, Amazon...

Have a great Christmas!

Dave Clarke

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Family Business in India

This should be seen not as a matter of discredit but of pride. Corporate studies have shown that in India, unlike in the West, family-managed businesses do significantly better than those run by professionals. This could be because of our national ethos in which rules matter less than relationships, and family ties take precedence over impersonalised codes of conduct.

What works in business works in the business of politics. To score over rivals, the Congress used to boast of its TINA factor: there is no alternative. Today the TINA factor needs to be internalised. In the Congress, there is no alternative to the Family. True to the principle of truth in advertising, why not change its new name to the Gandhi Party?

Family Business in India

However, if one were to trace the genesis of the epidemic of corruption it could be argued that the disease could well have been spawned during Indira Gandhi's regime where the ruinously high rates of taxation - 97 per cent in the highest tax bracket- and the licence raj inevitably fostered both the generation of black money and the unholy nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and big  business. With its catchy slogan of 'Garibi hatao' and its populist gimmicks like bank nationalisation and the abolition of privy purses, Indira Gandhi's socialism was in fact the legitimising of a sarkari mafia.
Did the communalisation of the Indian polity similarly have its roots in Indira Gandhi's time? To split the growing Khalistan movement she is believed to have created the ultra-fanatic Bhindranwale, setting in motion a tragic escalation of conflict which was to culminate in her own assassination.  
Despite these charges, Indira Gandhi occupies pride of place in the Congress pantheon of deities which include her father, her son, and now her daughter-in-law and her grandson. What better tribute to the untarnishable brand equity associated with the Nehru-Gandhi name?

Family Business in India

When during the Congress party's plenary session Sonia Gandhi described Manmohan Singh as "an embodiment of sobriety, dignity and integrity", it sounded like a testimonial from the head of a feudal clan for an old family retainer. And in fact this is exactly what it was. Today the Congress is the personal fiefdom of Sonia and Rahul. And instead of trying to gloss over this reality which is obvious to all the Congress should flaunt it as its unique selling proposition. Because apart from the Gandhi brand name, the party doesn't have anything else to recommend it.
At the plenary session - the 126th of the Grand Old Party of Indian politics - both Sonia and Rahul focused on the two biggest evils confronting the country today: corruption and communalism. Describing corruption as a "symptom of a closed and opaque economic and political structure (which)... snatches away the common man's opportunity to progress", Rahul called for "severe" and swift punishment for all those found guilty of graft. As the Commonwealth Games, the Adarsh housing society, the auction of the 2G spectrum, the Karnataka land swindle and UP's foodgrain scandal have shown, scams have no political affiliations; they are common to all parties.

Business-Jet Financing Demand To Improve In 2011

The head of General Electric Co.'s (GE) business-jet lending and leasing unit is forecasting solid demand in 2011, based on continued improvement in the economy and corporate profits.
"I'm very much encouraged for a much better 2011," said Dave Labrozzi, president of Corporate Aircraft Finance at GE Capital, the conglomerate's big finance arm.
The overall market for business jets has been difficult for the past few years due to the poor economy, which prompted companies to cut costs and sell assets. The aircraft also became a symbol of corporate excess in some cases.
But Labrozzi, speaking in an interview Tuesday, said those issues shouldn't restrain demand next year.
"This market is completely driven by corporate profits and the economy," both of which are on the upswing, he said.
GE doesn't release financial results for its business-jet lending and leasing arm, one of the biggest players in the global sector. Labrozzi declined to say if the unit has been profitable in 2010, although he stressed it performed better than in 2009 and "has been a good business for [GE] for a long time."
He said he thinks negative publicity that became associated with business jets during the era of taxpayer-funded bailouts "has largely abated," meaning the stigma about their use probably won't factor into many future corporate decisions.

Business-Jet Financing Demand To Improve In 2011

In addition, he said, prices for used business jets are at or very close to a bottom--having tumbled 25% to 35% on average over the past three years--so some corporations that have been holding out for the best deals don't have reason to continue delaying.
"Folks are now getting back into the market," Labrozzi said. "If we're not at a bottom [on used prices], then people are thinking we're close enough there."
Honeywell International Inc.'s (HON) aviation unit cast something of a pall over the business-jet sector in October, predicting in a closely watched annual outlook that the number of new aircraft deliveries may not perk up until 2012.
But Labrozzi chalked up the trend largely to the high numbers of used aircraft that remain on the market, not to a lack of corporate demand.
"I think [GE] is going to have a good year" in 2011 in terms of business-jet lending and leasing, he said. "And I think the industry itself is going to be much better off, but the lag on the new manufacturing side is going to take some time" to catch up

Banks agree £200bn for businesses but pay talks unresolved

George Osborne appeared to step back from suggestions he might impose new taxes on banks if they do not lend more to businesses. Photograph: Steve Back/Rex

An offer by major banks to lend £200bn to businesses and show "pay discipline" is to be the subject of further discussions between senior ministers and top bankers over the Christmas period.
George Osborne, the chancellor, and Vince Cable, the business secretary, called for another round of talks after a showdown with bank bosses today to discuss lending and bonuses, just as the bonus season begins in the City and coinciding with public sector job cuts.
The bankers – including John Varley, the outgoing chief executive of Barclays, and Douglas Flint, the new chairman of HSBC – presented a plan to ministers that would involve a pledge to lend £200bn to businesses, including £70bn specifically for smaller companies.
The so-called project Merlin proposals, which have been led by Varley, also included a promise for restraint on bonuses but did not provide any specific assurances on what this might mean.
The bankers are eager to calm the political rhetoric surrounding their bonus season and to return to the calmer relations which existed between the sector and governments before the 2008 banking crisis.

Banks agree £200bn for businesses but pay talks unresolved

Top bankers from Santander, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland also attended the talks which had been delayed by a day after the chancellor was held up by the snow.
Ministers felt discussions were constructive, even though they did not reach a specific outcome and were eventually overshadowed by the furore surrounding Cable's comments that he had "declared war" on Rupert Murdoch and his media empire.
Cable had gone into the meeting keen to achieve greater disclosure on the ways bankers are paid, a move he regards as crucial to show the coalition is taking action.
However, the chancellor has been less focused on forcing bankers to admit how much they pay themselves outside the boardroom and backed away from proposals designed by City grandee Sir David Walker to publish the number of staff earning more than £1m.
The government tonight said the talks with the bankers had discussed "bank lending – particularly to small and medium-sized businesses – and pay discipline, and how the banking industry can best support economic growth and job creation in the UK in 2011 and beyond".

Banks agree £200bn for businesses but pay talks unresolved

"The banks have put a number of proposals on the table. The government affirmed its desire to see a strong, responsibly and internationally competitive financial sector. The dialogue was constructive," a spokesperson added.
"These proposals will be the subject of further discussions over the Christmas period with the aim of building a sustainable, co-operative relationship between the lenders and government in 2011 in support of the economic recovery."
While Cable had raised the idea over the weekend that new taxes could be imposed on banks if they did not start lending more to business Osborne appeared to step back from this in parliament today.
Osborne told MPs that the £2.5bn a year bank levy on balance sheets showed the government was serious about tackling banks.
"What we've demonstrated in the last couple of weeks is we are prepared to increase the rate of the bank levy in order to sustain the revenue," he told parliament.
The bonus round has been particularly fraught since the bailout of the banks in 2008.

PM slaps down business minister over Murdoch remarks

In a statement, Cable said he fully accepted Cameron's decision, adding: "I deeply regret the comments I made and apologise for the embarrassment that I have caused the government."
Discussing News Corporation's bid, Cable told the undercover reporters: "I have blocked it, using the powers that I have got. And they are legal powers that I have got.
"I can't politicise it, but for the people who know what is happening, this is a big thing. His whole empire is now under attack. So there are things like that, that being in government... All we can do in opposition is protest."
Murdoch owns Britain's top-selling daily newspaper, The Sun, which backed Cameron's Conservatives in the elections in May.
The mogul was also reportedly one of the prime minister's first visitors when he took office after the vote.
A spokesperson for News Corporation had earlier said that it was "shocked and dismayed" by Cable's remarks, adding: "They raise serious questions about fairness and due process."
The Daily Telegraph first published remarks Tuesday by Cable indicating he could quit and "bring the government down" if the centre-left Liberal Democrats is pushed too far in compromising with the centre-right Conservatives.

Pak-India Business Council welcomes TAPI gas project

ISLAMABAD: Pak-India Business Council welcomed the Turkmanistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline project and termed it a historic step among the member countries. It met Monday with Noor Muhammad Kasuri in the chair and reviewed economic situation of the country and hurdles being faced in Pak-India trade. The project would help to fulfill the energy demands of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India besides strengthening the political and economic relations among the member countries. Council chairman said increasing energy demands of the country were ignored badly during last 50 years and domestic energy resources were sold out to a group to maintain their monopoly in the sector.

PM slaps down business minister over Murdoch remarks

EU regulators on Tuesday cleared News Corporation's attempt to buy a majority stake in BSkyB but the deal remains subject to a British regulatory review, which is due to report next week.
Cameron's spokesman said Cable's remarks "were totally unacceptable and inappropriate" and the prime minister took swift action.
"Following comments made by Vince Cable to the Daily Telegraph, the prime minister has decided that he will play no further part in the decision over News Corporation's proposed takeover of BSkyB," the spokesman said.
"In addition, all responsibility for competition and policy issues relating to media, broadcasting, digital and telecoms sectors will be transferred immediately to the secretary of state for culture, media and sport".
This includes responsibility for the communications watchdog.

PM slaps down business minister over Murdoch remarks

LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron stripped his business secretary of key powers Tuesday over what he termed "totally unacceptable and inappropriate" remarks about media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
Cameron's spokesman said that Vince Cable, a senior Liberal Democrat member of the Conservative-led coalition, would no longer have a say in Murdoch's bid to take full control of pay TV giant BSkyB, and his department would lose other powers.
The prime minister acted after Cable told undercover newspaper reporters that he had "declared war" on Murdoch and planned to block his New Corporation's 7.75-billion-pound bid for BSkyB.
"You may wonder what is happening with the Murdoch press," Cable told the Daily Telegraph reporters, who were posing as constituents. "I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we're going to win."

Engler Named Business Roundtable CEO

WASHINGTON—National Association of Manufacturers President John Engler has been appointed chief executive of the Business Roundtable, a group of leaders of the nation's biggest multinational companies, often tapped to advise the White House on policy.
Mr. Engler, a former Republican governor of Michigan and friend of George W. Bush, will be succeeded at the manufacturers' group by its executive vice president, Jay Timmons, a former Republican staffer and fund-raiser.
Mr. Engler, 62 years old, succeeds John Castellani, who had tried to work with the Obama administration on the stimulus, health care, cap-and-trade and other initiatives.
The twin appointments place GOP-leaning leaders at the helm of the capital's three most influential business groups: the Roundtable, NAM and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Medvedev joins scramble for India’s business

Like his peers, Mr Medvedev heavily promoted the complementary nature of his economy to India and pushed for a “modern” engagement across sectors including pharmaceuticals, defence and space technology.“I believe that trade between us does not nearly reflect our privileged partnership,” Mr Medvedev observed. “India is a comfortable partner especially in energy.”
He and Manmohan Singh, India’s 78-year-old prime minister who enjoys a high international standing as a statesman and a development economist, agreed a target of doubling bilateral trade to $20bn within five years to re-energise deep ties forged in the decades after India's independence
These now face competition from warming relationships with western powers, and the regional dominance of the Chinese economy.
Mr Obama, in a warmly received address to India’s parliament, described India as “emerged” rather than an emerging power and market.
They have also addressed India’s concerns about security in south Asia, and the threat of extremism from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Medvedev joins scramble for India’s business

Barack Obama, the US president, left India with more than $10bn worth of deals to help create jobs at home; Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, this week claimed $16bn worth of new business in a global scramble to do business with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
In return, the leaders of the United Nations Permanent Five countries have offered recognition of India’s standing as the world’s largest democracy and pledged their support for India playing a greater role in multilateral institutions, particularly a future seat at the UN Security Council.
Describing Moscow as a “major energy power”, Mr Medvedev on Tuesday stressed Russia’s role as a key energy supplier and an uncompromising stand on terror to single out his visit from the overtures of others. Among 15 agreements, he signed a pact to align India’s oil and gas companies with powerful Russian state-owned energy companies, like Gazprom, and an agreement to supply two nuclear reactors.

Medvedev joins scramble for India’s business

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s president, has closed a remarkable chapter in Indian diplomacy during which five of the world’s most powerful leaders have flocked in quick succession to New Delhi seeking new business and closer political alignment.
The leaders of the UK, US, France and China preceded Mr Medvedev’s arrival on Tuesday with strong bids to take advantage of India’s fast-growing economy and give greater recognition to the country’s rising global stature.
Accompanied by some of their largest business delegations, they have struck deals to supply India with energy and military equipment. They have also sought ways to integrate Asia’s third-largest economy more fully into the world economy, and promoted its role in the governance of the global financial system.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Are you networking with the right people?

I met someone last week at one of my regular networking groups. When he explained what he did I advised him that the group may not be great for him and his business. He sold cosmetics and the group was made up of professionals and providers of business services.

He said, rightly, that everyone there either used or knew people that used the types of products he sold. I said that was true, but they were all there because they shared the same target market. They were not selling directly to consumers of domestic products so the best network for him would be with others selling directly to the same domestic consumers.

Successful networking is all about building relationships with the right people. A good place to start when selecting a networking group is to find one where the other members sell to the same target market as you.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Something about Tata

Noel N. Tata has been one of the most reclusive business honchos in India. And he insists that it's his nature that makes him that way-and not a desire to keep a low profile. To our pleasant surprise, we found Tata an extremely engaging conversationalist, as he went about debunking common theories and wisdom about organised retail- a business he lives and breathes. Excerpts from his first full-length interview:

BT: But if your competition has 100 hypermarkets and you have 12, then he can call the shots?
NT: It's not that straightforward. Even at 100 hypermarkets, you will have less than 1 per cent of the large vendors' turnover. Scale alone does not bring profitability. If you have six or eight or 10 players all growing-they are all getting scale as well. If one of them decides that I am going to pass on my better margin to the customer, what do you do? You have to do the same and then that margin would disappear. Along with scale, customer service, location, pricing, product mix, availability are extremely important. If a customer comes with 100 items to buy and he only walks away with 60, he won't come back.

BT: One often wonders why Croma was created outside Trent. There's a perception that Bombay House felt Trent wasn't moving fast enough.
NT: At the time Croma was envisaged, we had our hands full with our own expansions. We had expansion plans for Landmark (books and music), expansion plans for hypermarkets as well as for Westside. Also, consumer durables (which is what Croma retails) is a completely different business. So, it was the right decision (to have Croma outside Trent). It possibly wouldn't have grown as fast as it has if Trent had tried to start it as another retail format. We are doing something else in the lifestyle area (with Westside). My sense is that it's only in India that retail is considered one industry. Nowhere in the world is the gamut of retail considered one industry. You don't treat manufacturing as one industry. You have cement, or automobiles or steel, each having its own competencies, each having its own quirks… so why does media or analysts treat retail as one industry? Also, the DNA of an organisation selling luxury is very different from the DNA of an organisation selling value.

BT: But your pace of expansion would seem slow…
NT: Our view is that retail, which appears on the surface to be a simple business, in reality is not. It is a business in which details are extremely important, where the front end needs to treat the customer as an individual even as the back end needs to be able to procure in bulk and get economies of scale… We grow our formats in stages. In Stage I, we open a pilot store to check customer reaction. In Stage II, we open 3-10 more stores to check for location advantage/disadvantage and for further fine-tuning to get a line of sight to profitability. Only once we are confident that the format can deliver profitability do we go in for further expansion.

Something about Tata

Noel N. Tata has been one of the most reclusive business honchos in India. And he insists that it's his nature that makes him that way-and not a desire to keep a low profile. To our pleasant surprise, we found Tata an extremely engaging conversationalist, as he went about debunking common theories and wisdom about organised retail- a business he lives and breathes. Excerpts from his first full-length interview:

BT: So, do you feel you have done enough with Trent or you could have moved faster?
NT: Our aim has always been profitable growth. We have pursued growth with profits rather than growth for the sake of it. You must also remember that we were a publicly listed company when we started, compared to many others who were or still are private companies in their growth phase. We had thousands of shareholders. We have never missed a dividend in all these years.

BT: Do you think some of the first movers have inherent advantages because they built their stores when real estate prices were really low?
NT: I think on that particular point, in terms of real estate prices, you are right. Having said that, our view is that if you are in fashion, you are only as good as your last collection. You have to be constantly delivering the right fashion. Being first and then not keeping it up in terms of collections won't keep you in business for a long time. On the hypermarkets side, if you are not first and if you are coming second or third or fourth, you have the ability to see what the competition has done, analyse their weaknesses and develop stores that are superior. I am not so fussed about first mover advantage.

Something about Tata

Noel N. Tata has been one of the most reclusive business honchos in India. And he insists that it's his nature that makes him that way-and not a desire to keep a low profile. To our pleasant surprise, we found Tata an extremely engaging conversationalist, as he went about debunking common theories and wisdom about organised retail- a business he lives and breathes. Excerpts from his first full-length interview:

BT: It's 10 years now that you have been with Trent. What do you see yourself doing in the future?

NT: There is so much more to do now at Trent that there is little time to think about anything else. Usually, I am on a six-and-a-half-day week. The rest is time left for family and often if I have to visit a place like Nashik or Pune to look at a store, a Sunday is the best day to go for it. So, I have little time left after that. And retail is a detailed business-you cannot get away from it. You have to keep revisiting your stores. Even on a holiday I might see a little shop somewhere doing something special and I start thinking-now we can do that, too. This is a business I have a passion for and I feel I am lucky to have had the opportunity to work in this business. Each of the top five players in hypermarkets can build a business worth more than Rs 20,000 crore in the next 20 years.

Something about Tata

Ernest Hemingway famously bestowed the honour of the ugliest word in the language to "retirement." At the House of Tatas, however, retirement has few connotations of revulsion; rather it is being greeted with a well-thoughtout big-picture strategy for succession planning. Ratan N. Tata (72) is slated to hang up his boots in three years but, before that, a clutch of his trusted lieutenants at Tata Sons will be calling it a day. Syamal Gupta (75), RNT's close friend and a Director on Tata Sons (who joined Tata Steel -then Tisco-as a trainee engineer at 21) retired in August 2009. Also likely to take his final bow soon at Tata Sons-the key promoter company of the group-is Vice Chairman N.A. Soonawala (73), one of the most visible faces in the larger Tata companies, as Director on various boards. If two other Tata Sons stalwarts, J.J. Irani (73) and R.K. Krishnakumar (71) also step down by 2011 and 2013, respectively, it would complete a generational shift at Tata Sons.

Something about Tata

Unassuming, minimally-dressed, soft-spoken, and notoriously lowprofile, it's easy for Noel Tata to get lost in a crowd. If you had to do a SWOT on the Trent CEO, count such anonymity as his biggest strength. He can stroll into his retailing formats, take in customer behaviour and accordingly make changes in his merchandising strategy. More excitingly, he can stride into rivals' retailing formats, figure what they're doing right, what they're doing wrong, and accordingly get back to his drawing board.
Year: 2008. Trent decides to flag off its first hypermarket in Bangalore, in Koramangala. The location: Some 500 yards away from where a competitor has set up a similar format. This, according to the industry buzz, is one of the rival's star performers. Noel decides to pay a visit. He walks in and quickly soaks up its advantages-the location is immaculate, and every product is stacked in a manner that pleases the eye.

Something about Tata

You're more likely to see him in the driver's seat of a Tata Safari than being driven around in a fancy sedan. Noel loves driving-fast-but, perhaps, the only time he gets to indulge is once his six-and-a-half-day week is done. Don't be surprised to see him, along with a couple of his Trent colleagues, driving out of Mumbai early morning to neighbouring Pune or Nashik on "site visits" as they look around for potential locations to put up their stores.
Himanshu Chakrawarti, COO of Landmark, Trent's books and music subsidiary, says that it is immensely possible to catch Noel in the corridor to bounce a few ideas off him. K.M. Bharuka, Managing Director of Kansai Nerolac, on whose Board Noel is an Independent Director, adds: "He is very approachable by nature, not just for me, but also for junior members of our team who feel they can seek advice from him.
For a man who's the only Tata (apart from RNT) in the close-to-100-company Tata Group at a director level, such unfussiness is remarkable (RNT's younger brother by two years, Jimmy Tata, had worked in various Tata companies; he retired in the '90s). Also, at 53, Tata is now one of the more senior CEOs in the Group after a recent spate of retirements (see The Bombay House Shuffle, page 54). And if you consider that he is the son-in-law of Pallonji Mistry, who owns roughly 18 per cent in Tata Sons, making him a larger shareholder than RNT himself, Noel should be blazing a trail at Bombay House. 

Something about Tata

A fan club for an incredibly low-profile and selfconfessed introvert may seem as improbable as the US President winning a Nobel Peace Prize, but then even that's happened now. A fan club is also embarrassing for the 53-year-old Tata ("if it flatters, that's the end of me," he quips), who defies the image of the conventional corporate honcho in pinstripes. For starters, he avoids suits, blazers and even ties (he reluctantly agrees to knot one for photographs for BT, even as he lets on that he's more at ease in half sleeves).
Then, he shuns the CEO cocktail circuit, is quick with his "regrets" on RSVPs to corporate dos, is usually last-in-firstout at any group shindig that calls for the presence of Tata company CEOs (like the launch of the Tata Nano car, for instance)-and, best of all, for a head of a close to Rs 1,000-crore company, he's refreshingly downto-earth. Those who know him well say he is happy to stay at company guest houses when on office tour and, according to one friend, "he will always look to spend less if it is possible."

Something about Tata

These aren't the results of a dipstick survey conducted by Business Today when writing this feature on Noel Naval Tata, whose prominence is inversely proportionate to the expectations riding on him. Rather, this is an opinion poll on a web page that proclaims to be "the unofficial website of Noel Tata by fans".

At the time of writing, the number of viewers who had taken the poll was a little over 200, more than three-fourths of whom clearly see Noel as a logical heir to Ratan Naval Tata, whose tenure as Chairman comes to an end once he turns 75 in 2012 (there is a slim chance of RNT still being the man calling the shots after that by virtue of his control of the trusts that control Tata Sons). Along with the poll, the website carries links to a biography of Noel, as well as a profile and news on the company he runs-organised retailing major Trent Ltd.

Today's Business (CNBC Europe)

The programme was renamed from "Today's Business Europe" in May 2003. While the title was only slightly altered, the programme was reduced from two hours to one (with the then-titled CNBC Europe Squawk Box gaining an hour). While Today's Business Europe had been presented in front of CNBC Europe's video wall, the new programme (initially co-anchored by Guy Johnson and Serena Al-Awa, who has since left CNBC Europe) was presented from behind a desk.
The programme ended its run on March 23, 2007 and was replaced on March 26 by a new show, Capital Connection, co-anchored by Maura Fogarty at CNBC Asia in Singapore and Sedgwick in London.

Today's Business (CNBC Europe)

Today's Business was a business news programme aired on CNBC Europe from 6-7am CET (5-6am WET) between January 2001 and March 2007. The programme was originally based on the CNBC U.S. morning programme Today's Business, which was later replaced by the programme Wake Up Call. The European Today's Business was presented by Steve Sedgwick.
The programme, affectionately referred to by presenters as "TBiz", featured a look ahead to the day. Segments included a review of yesterday's business, a news headlines round-up, as well as early results. The programme also linked up with CNBC Asia for continuing coverage of the Asian session

Today's Business

In 1999, there was once Today's Business: Early Edition weekdays 4-5 am ET on CNBC, hosted by Bob Sellers and Bonnie Behrand, made the whole Today's Business expand to 3 hours.
Today's Business: Early Edition provides frequent round-ups of key business and general news stories, along with sports updates. Regular segments include "Wake Up with Jay," highlights from Jay Leno’s "Tonight Show" monologue; and live weather reports from Chief Meteorologist Joe Witte.

Today's Business

Today's Business is a show on CNBC that aired in the early morning, 5 to 7AM ET timeslot, hosted by Liz Claman and Bob Sellers, and it was replaced by Wake Up Call on Feb 4, 2002. The show gives news that will probably affect the trading day ahead.
Today's Business (Europe) was the equivalent program on CNBC Europe. It ended on 23 March 2007 and was replaced by Capital Connection.
There was also a program on CNBC Asia called CNBC Today, but it was replaced by Asia Wake Up Call.

Business Plus- TV Channel

Business Plus is the first Pakistani channel to offer business news and analysis. The focus of Business Plus is on news and current affairs through credible and hard-hitting programming. First mover advantage resulting in high brand preference among viewers.
Business Plus is identified for its credible & authentic news & data due to its systematic editorial policy Dedicated, specialized and a professionally qualified team for all operations & programming.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Understanding uncertainty: Infinite monkey business

The idea that an infinite number of monkeys typing at random on an infinite number of typewriters will eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare apparently dates from 1913, and has appeared repeatedly in popular culture ever since. When the BBC Horizon team decided to make a programme about infinity. We said we needed a program to churn out random letters and match them to Shakespeare, and so they commissioned a Monkey Simulator program from Aaron Russell, which is available from this website.
The Monkey Simulator program generates random symbols from a list of 31 options: 26 lower-case letters, a space, a comma, a full stop, a semicolon and a hyphen. After a sequence of four symbols has been generated, the program searches for a match in a stored plain-text version of the Complete Works of Shakespeare, ignoring whether a letter is capital or lower-case. If the procedure finds one or more matches, it generates a further character and again checks if there is a match for five symbols, and so on, until no matches are found. Then it starts again with a new sequence of four characters. Characters are generated at a rate of 50 per second. (We note that this procedure cannot match sequences that stretch over the 36,357 line returns in the text file, and also cannot match all the other punctuation in the text, such as the 10,475 question marks and 8,827 exclamation marks.)

Business Plus- TV Channel

Business Plus is the first Pakistani channel to offer business news and analysis. The focus of Business Plus is on news and current affairs through credible and hard-hitting programming. First mover advantage resulting in high brand preference among viewers.
Business Plus is identified for its credible & authentic news & data due to its systematic editorial policy Dedicated, specialized and a professionally qualified team for all operations & programming.

Business Account Charges by RBS Bank

Thcharges for the day to day running of your account are detailed These charges together form your ‘service charge’. The charging periods for transactions forming part of your service charge generally end when your statement is produced. The charges are then applied 14 days later.

Business Current Account –Standard Tariff
You will pay a fixed amount for each transaction that you carry out on your Business Current Account. For details of charges on your Business Current Account see ‘Standard Tariff’

Business Plus Account
If you bank online or over the telephone you may prefer the Business Plus Account which includes free automated transactions. For details of charges on your Business Plus Account see ‘Business Plus Tariff’ on

Business Plus is only available to business customers with an annual turnover of less than £250,000 and less than £25,000 total borrowing.
Foundation Account –Standard Tariff
If you’re starting your first business and have no trading history, or if you have a poor credit history, our Foundation Account could be just what your business needs. It provides straightforward, transaction-based business banking, giving you and your business time to establish a credit and trading record. For details of charges on the Foundation Account see ‘Standard Tariff’

Royalties Business Account
You will pay a fixed monthly fee from only £25 covering you for every day transactions. In addition, there are plenty of extra benefits to help your business, for example, you can take advantage of discounted RBS Small Business Loan rates and annual card fees. For details of charges on the Royalties Business Account see ‘Royalties Business Account’
Treasurers Account Tariff
A simple way to manage your organisation’s finances. There are no transaction charges on frequently used services.

If you are starting a new business, we give you two years’ free banking.
Free banking means that the charges for the day to day running of your account (known in this leaflet as your “service charge”) will not apply during the free banking period. At the end of the free banking period, you will automatically move to the Standard Tariff detailed on pages 5 and 6. Charges for “Additional Services” and “Unarranged Borrowing” detailed in this leaflet are not part of the free banking offer. Free banking applies to businesses that started trading within the past twelve months with projected or existing annual turnover not exceeding £1 million.

"Financial calculator for Pocket PC”

Pocket 10B Plus Business Calculator is specifically designed for performing financial calculations and is based on the popular HP-10B/II.
Key features of the program include:
  • Functions, thinks, and behaves like the HP-10B/HP-10BII
  • Algebraic data entry
  • Labeled output
  • Automatic constants
  • Interest conversion
  • Business percentages
  • Time value of money
  • Cash flows analysis
  • Amortization
  • One and two variable statistics
  • Three key memory

Emulate the popular financial calculator, HP-10B on your Pocket PC...

Business Communication

Business Communication:communication used to promote a product, service, or organization; relay information within the business; or deal with legal and similar issues. It is also a means of relaying between a supply chain, for example the consumer and manufacturer.
Business Communication is known simply as "Communications." It encompasses a variety of topics, including Marketing, Branding, Customer relations, Consumer behaviour, Advertising, Public relations, Corporate communication, Community engagement, Research & Measurement, Reputation management, Interpersonal communication, Employee engagement, Online communication, and Event management. It is closely related to the fields of professional communication and technical communication.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

No business like this snow business

Suddenly, there's a lot of weather about. Winter has arrived, and, with it, those confusing months when it's hard to tell what the climate is up to from day to day. Some rely on the Met Office; others swear by seaweed, and many of us more experienced hands have discovered you can tell quite a bit by peeling back the curtains and looking through a window.
But that tells you only what the weather is doing in your own back yard. Obtaining a comprehensive national picture is more difficult. You can always phone friends, or, if you don't have any, scan webcams in far-flung parts. But, for a really reliable indicator of the national weather picture, you need to turn to the press. Since most national papers are produced in London, by staff living within commuting distance of the capital, the way they calibrate their snow coverage is a far more accurate way of detecting the nation's weather.

Business Ethics

Business ethics can be both a normative and a descriptive discipline. As a corporate practice and a career specialization, the field is primarily normative. In academia descriptive approaches are also taken. The range and quantity of business ethical issues reflects the degree to which business is perceived to be at odds with non-economic social values. Historically, interest in business ethics accelerated dramatically during the 1980s and 1990s, both within major corporations and within academia. For example, today most major corporate websites lay emphasis on commitment to promoting non-economic social values under a variety of headings such as ethics codes and social responsibility charters. In some cases, corporations have redefined their core values in the light of business ethical considerations, for example, BP's "beyond petroleum" environmental tilt.

Business Ethics

Business ethics (also known as corporate ethics) is a form of applied ethics or professional ethics that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that arise in a business environment. It applies to all aspects of business conduct and is relevant to the conduct of individuals and business organizations as a whole. Applied ethics is a field of ethics that deals with ethical questions in many fields such as medical, technical, legal and business ethics.

Business Ethics

Business Ethics is an online magazine with a strong heritage in the fields of ethics, governance, corporate responsibility and socially responsible investing.
Now available only on the web, Business Ethics was launched in 1987 and published for 20 years as a quarterly print magazine. The mission of Business Ethics – now, as then – is “to promote ethical business practices, to serve that growing community of professionals and individuals striving to work and invest in responsible ways.”
We seek to do that by offering our readers information, opinion and cutting-edge analysis about business and the intersection of business and society.
A lot has changed in the more than two decades since Business Ethics was founded. Ethics and governance have emerged as front-page news and lead agenda items in corporate board rooms and the halls of Congress. Good corporate citizenship is now studied, advocated and sometimes practiced. Sustainability has become a goal for well-meaning small businesses as well as many of the Fortune 500.
Whether that represents real progress is open to debate. The continuing fallout from the recent economic and financial crises is a constant reminder that many systems are not working. There’s plenty to discuss. Business Ethics aims to serve as a guide.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What is a business networking group?

At a dinner party a couple of weeks ago one of the other guests asked me what I do. I used the phrase 'Business Networking Group' in my reply and she said, "What's a Business Networking Group?"

I was a little thrown at first, but realised I shouldn't be. I think we often assume that everyone knows more about whatever it is we do than they actually do. I met someone on a Referral Institute training course yesterday who had once written technical manuals. He said that the instructions included the advice to write so that an 8 year old can understand.

Wikipedia describes Business Networking as 'a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded businesspeople recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities. A business network is a type of social network whose reason for existing is business activity'.

I realised that I needed to explain a little bit more.

I explained that there are now many more people running their own business than ever before. Many of them are specialists in what they do and do not have any marketing or sales people. They rely on personal recommendation or word of mouth for their business. Their main problem is that they need more of these opportunities than they currently have. Many of the older business support services in the public and private sector do not really help these business people with generating positive word of mouth.

Any group exists because the members share and are committed to a common cause. The common cause for the members of a business networking group will usually be helping each other in business. This may be around sharing business, support and information (or all 3). It is mainly the need to generate more business by recommendation that has lead to the growth in the market of specialist business networking groups.

A business networking group is a club where the common cause is helping each other become more successful in business.

The most important thing in an effective business networking group is that the members don't just share the same needs. They must be in a position to really help each other. That will often mean that the members share similar target markets and provide similar value services. Success is then down to the commitment and contribution they make.

Would an 8 year old understand how you describe what you do?

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Business: How to get Business started with Facebook

Are you a new business wondering how to build a presence on the web in less than 24 hours, at no cost and without having to be a technical guru? In this article you will discover 7 tips for getting started with a Facebook Page for your business to help you start building your brand online.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The small business advantage in the Digital Age

I write this from a train heading into London. I am on my way to a 'Digital Mindset' workshop from Ecademy founders Penny & Thomas Power. The purpose of the event is billed as 'to look at why a "Digital Mindset" and Digital Coaching will grow your business.' The tag line for the Ecademy website is now 'Learning, networking and business development for the digital age'.

If we are in a 'digital age' what does this mean for the Owners, Directors and Partners of small specialist businesses and professional firms? It is mainly these people who go networking as their primary route to market.

Most of the people I meet in this category are passionate about what they do and are open and transparent about what they do and why. It is this passion, openness & transparency that gives them an advantage in this digital age. It is exactly the right approach online.

Contrast this with the news furore over the last few days about wikileaks. Whatever the rights or wrongs the revelations, if true, show some of our politicians, diplomats and representatives of big business taking the opposite approach. Saying one thing in private and another thing in public. The internet has made it easier to judge openness, honesty and transparency. The very things that small business is mainly better at that big business.

You may have heard the expression 'people buy people'. The approach for the digital age is the same as what came before.

Be yourself!

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Think of networking as a system & not an event

I was at an event recently where someone said that the owners of small businesses often operate a really unstructured approach to marketing. This is often an irregular series of one off initiatives in relation to short term needs. The problem with this approach is that each new activity takes a lot of effort and does not build on the things that have been done before. It leads to a lot of wasted time and frustration.

Many business owners and professionals adopt a similar approach to networking. Attending loads of events when new business is needed with infrequent activity when they are busy. Both marketing and networking are much more productive when done systematically.

Instead of networking like crazy when you need something adopt a simple, straightforward, systematic approach. This means building your network rather than meeting lots of people infrequently. Take the time to build the right relationships with the right people for you and your business. Then take the time to understand what they need and help them achieve it. Don't forget to let them know what you need and how they can help you. This approach means you can invest your time effectively at fewer events and leave more time to doing what you really enjoy and get paid to do.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Are you building strong ties with your network?

In The quality of your network really matters I wrote about recent research into influencing behaviour through social networks. This research highlighted the importance of building close, strong ties to people in your network.

In his keynote at the F5 Conference earlier this year Malcolm Gladwell is quoted as Saying,

"If social media tools are going to make a meaningful commitment to the way our world is run you have to remember to build trust, to build institutions and to build strong ties."

Mark Smiciklas of the Intersection Marketing Blog regularly produces some great visuals in his articles. Here are the ones he used to illustrate the Malcolm Gladwell quote in his article on Malcolm Gladwell & The Future of Social Media a few months ago.

As I have written before,

"Success in networking (offline and online) comes down to building a manageable number of relationships amongst people with influence amongst the right audience. Then motivating that network to advocate you."

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Building a business by referring others first

In a recent post I suggested it was a good idea to work out who else is needed when you do business. This simple exercise means you can work out which other businesses give you the most referral opportunities. Both for giving and receiving.

Someone asked me a couple of days ago if I could give an example. Some years ago I was involved in an Internet start up. We provided high speed internet connectivity to business clients in City of London in the days before broadband! Before we opened for business we built relationships with other providers of services in the Internet, IT and Telecoms space. Services that would be complementary to ours and that our clients and potential clients might also need. Some of these may have been competitors in some respects, but we felt that if they were right for a client then we would not be and vice versa.

These other businesses included providers of:
  • consumer ISP services - we were b2b only.
  • computer and computer network equipment - we did not sell this equipment.
  • email and internet software.
  • internet security.
  • computer cabling suppliers.
  • data storage.
  • telephony and telephony equipment.
  • e-commerce.
  • web design.
  • internet hosting.
Most of the time when we spoke with potential clients they might not need our services at the time, but they needed one of these others and we referred them. This kept us front of mind for both our potential clients and those we referred. 

Over time all of our business came through referrals from these sources. The 'potential clients' became clients or referred others as a result of the help we provided for them. Those we referred then stated doing the same for us. Many of these relationships also resulted in more collaboration, but that's another story...

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Who else is needed when you do business?

Last week I was with a group of Professionals and Small Business Owners in Birmingham learning more about Referral Marketing at the Referral Institute's UK & Ireland Conference. The theme of the day was about how you can dramatically increase your referred revenue. One topic covered by Trey McAlister was about understanding 'Contact Sphere Professionals'. These people are in a position to regularly refer each other.

It is worth spending some time identifying this group for your business. Who else is often needed when you do business? What opportunities do you uncover as you go about your work? What other opportunities could you uncover as you go about your work?

This process of identifying them also gives you an idea of the opportunities you have for referring and building your inner network. As you do this for them you are demonstrating how they can do the same for you and others. You are advocating them and providing the motivation for them to do it for you.

You really can get all the business you need through a close knit group of like minded business owners like this. That is provided you are all committed to the success of each other and are all in a position to regularly provide opportunities to each other. You need to meet regularly to strengthen your relationships and exchange opportunities. Why not find a convenient networking group that you can do this in?

You are also adding value to your client relationships by showing them you have their success at heart and not just your own.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Monday, October 25, 2010

Do you nurture your network like a good garden?

Nurturing your network can be similar to tending your garden. In a garden different trees, plants and shrubs require differing amounts of attention to enable them to grow and thrive. It's the same with your network. Some relationships need very little maintenance, some require much more at the start and others need constant attention.

Many people, though, think of networking as being all about connecting with as many people as possible. This approach leaves you very little time to build the right relationships. Your garden would soon be over-run with weeds if you neglected that personal care and attention. At this time of year some extra attention is required to ensure the health of your garden for the Winter and in preparation for Spring. In his column in the Financial Times on Saturday Mike Southon offered some advice on networking including some "radical pruning of the people in our on-line networks".

The article is worth a read and as Mike wrote, "Any network is all about quality rather than quantity, the depth rather than the breadth of your connections."

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An offline networking lesson from Linkedin

Many business people are comfortable with Linkedin. The online tools seem based around the way networking has always worked offline. Used well the Linkedin tools add value to your offline networking.

In a peer to peer boardroom session recently we were discussing how someone could get in front of good prospects for a new high value consulting service. One of the difficulties this person had was helping his network identify referral opportunities. We got the person to identify some real companies he could work with. We then searched linkedin for contacts in those companies. Linkedin showed those in our existing networks who were connected to these 'prospects'. The action the person took away from the boardroom was to try and get introductions to these prospects via his network. Linkedin makes that whole process very open & simple.

It can be very difficult offline to know who our network knows. One way to help is to identify the the actual companies you want to work with. Then tell your network who they are, how you help and why you want to be introduced.

Once you are in a trusted relationship it is well worth setting aside regular one to one time where you explore each others connections and the opportunies within.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Friday, October 15, 2010

Who are the best introducers?

I was running the NRG Bath lunch yesterday. Small group but really great people. In the morning I ran a session for the group members where we were helping each other work out who their best introducers were. They knew their target market but found it difficult, like most people, to work out who else knew that market.

As we went round the table it became clear that there was one category of introducers that were really desirable. They are the 'trusted advisors', those business professionals who help the business owner/director with specific issues. They might be outsourced finance directors, accountants, business coaches or virtual PAs. They all share the same thing - they understand the business owner's drivers and issues and they have that person's ear.

That's easy then. Just aim to meet those 'trusted advisors' and wait for that steady stream of referrals. Of course it doesn't work like that. It is one thing identifying these special people, it is another thing getting them to refer you. That's where relationship building comes in. Only when they know you, like you, trust you will they consider referring you. And only when they are motivated to do so.

To start that process of building these critical advocate relationships put yourself in the shoes of John F Kennedy and, to paraphrase "ask not what they can do for you but what you can do for them".

Good Networking!

Martin Davies

You have a Linkedin profile so now what?

I get asked regularly by business people and professionals about using Linkedin. Here is a short video from the clever folks at Commoncraft that explains it all in very simple language.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Put yourself in their shoes

Most weeks I meet someone who works on their own and who says something like, "I work with blue chips so need to be 'networking' with CEOs, CFOs, CTOs etc of Corporates, Blue Chips etc".

Stop for a moment and think about the responsibilities these CXO people have and their priorities. Where do you think meeting a bunch of people at a networking group fits? Instead of thinking about finding these people directly put yourself in their shoes. What are the things they worry about and who do they turn to for advice?

That will give you some idea of where to focus your networking efforts. With their other trusted advisers and suppliers!

Spend your time building relationships with these people. They are the ones that have influence with and access to your target market.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to amplify and not dilute your message

Why does Word of Mouth Marketing work so well?

That was the recent headline of an article by my colleague in NRG Business Networks, Martin Davies. Stuart Harris Replied on Twitter,

"WoM marketing is great because it's personal but the person isn't paid ("hire a liar") - they recommend or not from the heart".

The subject came up yesterday at a seminar on Linkedin before the NRG lunch in Swindon. We know, and research confirms, that a recommendation or referral from a trusted 3rd party is much more powerful than any direct message of yours.

That's why networking is not about broadcasting your message to as many people as possible. Neither is it about meeting as many people as you possibly can yourself. That just dilutes your effort.

Build strong relationships with a close trusted network. They will deliver those precious 3rd party recommendations and your message will be amplified many times over.

Good Networking

Dave Clarke

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Are you talking enough with the people you already know?

One of the issues I hear most often from Directors and Professionals in small and medium sized businesses is how to generate business in new markets. I facilitated a peer to peer 'Boardroom' session recently where half of the issues raised were around this topic:

"How do I reach the companies I want to provide with a new service?"
"How do I get people to my networking group?"
"How do I get to relevant SMEs?"

Many people think the answer is to search for new connections on social networks or find new places to meet lots of people. The problem with this is you can very quickly run out of resources including your precious time. Stretching yourself very thinly in this way probably means getting to hardly know lots of people. Not the way to generate new business.

I spoke at an event recently on the big mistake that means networking doesn't work for many people. I asked the audience whether the best business came via recommendation and they agreed. I asked if they agreed that people recommend people in business that they know, like, rate and trust. They agreed again so I also asked whether they thought a good networking event was one with people they mostly didn't know. They agreed with that too and that is very often where the problem begins. Getting to know people takes time and the vast majority of people you meet once will remain as strangers.

The best way to get to the people you don't know is not by yourself. It is through word of mouth. It is by getting to know and supporting your close network even better than you do now. Grow advocates amongst them and they will recommend you to the people you don't know yet.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Baby Boomer Entrepreneur, Would You Let Your New Business Play In Traffic?

If you had a new puppy, how would you protect it? Would you let it play in your front yard alone? If there is a 95% chance that it would get killed within a year if you just let it do what it wants, would you let it run free?

If you met the love of your life and decided to get married, would you forget to tell them every day that you love them? Suppose research proved that 95% of people who don't tell their spouses every day that they love them have a divorce within a year? Wouldn't you take action to protect your relationship?

When your child gets big enough to play outside, would you let it play in the street if there is a 95% probability that it would get hit by a car within a year?

These are the same odds that a baby boomer entrepreneur faces, that something will hurt or kill her business within the first year, with a 95 % certainty. This is true for all entrepreneurs, from baby boomer entrepreneurs through Gen -Y. I suspect that it even applies to kids with lemonade stands, but I haven't seen the research.

What we can see in the research is staggering. In the United States alone, a business started today has a 95% probability of not surviving for twelve months. Next month 500,000 businesses started across America will produce that same result. And next month another 500,000 businesses will have the same fate...and then the next month...until six million businesses are started in the year. And every January 1st a new year starts the cycle all over again. If you knew this, wouldn't you do something different to make sure your business is among those that survive?

When you have a child, you want them to learn to walk, go to school, graduate , and eventually become a responsible adult contributing to the world. Though you have the lofty vision of their life, you first immediate goal is to keep them alive until their first birthday. As they grow, you will protect them from the new set of age appropriate set of dangers.

If we know businesses have a 95% infant mortality rate, why do we wrap our beloved new born businesses in a baby blanket, set it in a basket in the street and ignore the traffic? Would YOU do that and expect to be a successful baby boomer entrepreneur?


Follow me on Twitter

Image: Tom Clare /

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Your network is the biggest asset in your business

Over the last couple of years many small business owners and professionals have discovered for the first time that business is about downs as well as ups. Fortunately for the economy most of these people have a pretty positive outlook and will be helping lead us out of recession. There are those that will be doing this in an entirely different business from the one they were running three years ago. I was chatting with a few of these people last week.

One was talking about the need to meet lots of new people and make new connections for his new business. This is a common approach, but can make life much more difficult in building his new business. It ignores the most important asset he built during his previous business and those before it. His Network! People who know, like, rate and trust him because they have seen him in action and those he has made a real difference to.

Those are the people to focus attention on as they are already in a position to make those vital referrals and recommendations that produce the best new sales for any business, new or old.

Business may be temporary, but your Network is permanent!

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Get more referrals by dominating your niche

In a recent NRG business networking event Chris Bose delivered an excellent talk on how to get more prospects for your business from your website. You can read the full text on his website. The elements of his process for getting more prospects are very useful in the context of generating more referrals in networking.
A good website is aimed at being found by relevant people and converting them to prospects and not just hits. In the same way successful networkers build relationships with potential advocates in the right market sectors rather than just randomly connecting with lots of people. They then motivate their Inner Network to generate referrals.

Niche Domination means aiming your website at only the targeted people who are interested in the specific stuff that you sell. In networking you want your network to remember the specific target market you solve problems for and the more precise you are the better.

If you need help in finding your niche then analyse who you work with today, who you enjoy working with and where the money comes from!

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The quality of your network really matters

The rise in popularity of social networking websites has seen many people adopt a different approach to building their network. They have followed the idea encouraged by a number of 'experts' that large numbers of followers or connections are all important. Internet Psychologist, Graham Jones, has just written about evidence that demonstrates this approach is wrong. His article about new research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology into 'The Spread of Behavior in an Online Social Network' reports on the findings. The research compared how behaviour was spread in two competing networks. It spread much farther and faster in the quality, structured network than in the random one.

As Graham writes, "this research confirms that a structured network of close ties is the most beneficial. It is evidence that quality of your network is more important than quantity."

This is more confirmation that success in networking (offline and online) comes down to building a manageable number of relationships amongst people with influence amongst the right audience. Then motivating that network to advocate you.

Graham includes some great networking tips in his article:

1. Concentrate on truly connecting with people, rather than building numbers. Focus on relationships, rather than popularity rankings.

2. Keep in regular touch with your network; don't just add occasional information - make your social network a key part of your daily activity.

3. Encourage your network participants to invite their real-life friends to join your specific group; getting people to support each other within your network appears to boost the entire network, the study finds.

4. Have structure to your network - rather than making it informal, provide leadership.

Good Networking!

Dave Clarke

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why does Word of Mouth Marketing work so well?

Word of Mouth Marketing is fashionable and perceived to work exceptionally well in today’s world of information overload. But exactly why is it so powerful?

Here is the reason. Word of Mouth is all about what someone who is not perceived to have an axe to grind says about someone else’s product or service. We pay more attention to positive (and negative) comments from our friends and associates about all sorts of things than what we see, read or listen to in the media.

In today’s world successful marketing is all about speeding up the person’s decision making through the value of a third party’s recommendation. They are valued because:

• They are seen as independent;
• They have experienced the product or service and are seen as knowledgeable;
• Advice they give is seen as relevant because they are thinking of that person.

Let me give you a real example which brought this mind. Last week, at one of our networking lunches, one of our members Mark asked me if he should buy a service from another member Jill. It involved quite a lot of money and time so he wanted to be convinced he was making the right decision. “I want to make the right decision and I value your thoughts” is what he said. Knowing what was important to him and having experienced first-hand Jill’s service I was able to talk about her service at the right level and explain what benefit Mark might get.

In short I was valued because I had experienced the service, was seen as independent and was offering relevant and pertinent advice.

He bought it.

The moral of this story is that nothing sells better than a supporter who knows your service well and is motivated to help. At NRG we call them advocates and they are worth their weight in gold!

For more information read the NRG Advocacy Model.

Good Networking!

Martin Davies

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The same rules apply for online and offline Word of Mouth

I have written before about online & offline networking needing similar approaches. Recent HP Labs social media research concludes that successful influence on twitter does not depend on a large number of followers. That for information to propagate in a network, individuals need to forward it to the other members, thus having to actively engage rather than passively read it.

This supports the behaviours we identified in our research into offline networking and how to proactively create positive word of mouth.

Success in networking (offline and online) comes down to building a manageable number of relationships amongst people with influence amongst the right audience. Then motivating that network to advocate you.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

'Don't dive in' is not an excuse for doing nothing

I received a message via Twitter about my recent article, The BIG Mistake That Means Networking Doesn’t Work. The person said she agreed with the article, but thought people may take the advice 'don't dive in' as an excuse for doing nothing.

My main point was that people often start networking with no end in mind. Put some thought into what you want and then get out there and join some networks. Find those groups with other business people who operate in similar markets to you. Commit to investing the time to develop relationships and create a network of advocates.

Many people miss out by not joining a group or joining much later than they should. If you put a little bit of effort into identifying the right places to network up front then you can join in as soon as you find them. If you attend a group & leave it for a few months before joining you are missing opportunities.

One thing is absolutely certain. If you do nothing you will get nothing!

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sorting out the Chaos

I was talking to an NRG member, Phil Cheesman, the other day. Phil was observing that he saw many business people leading fairly chaotic business lives.

They never seem to have time to sit back and think strategically about where the're going and how the're going to get there, let alone do anything substantial about it. Instead, they end up conducting a daily series of fire-fighting actions which leads to inefficiency, frustration and stress. In the worst-cases, the stress can manifest itself in tiredness, grumpiness, depression and deteriorating personal relationships.

He calls this the "chaotic business syndrome". Typical indicators are:
  • there are too many things you could/should be doing
  • you can't see the wood for the trees
  • you find it difficult to prioritise tasks effectively
  • you are "running hard to stay still"
  • you become forgetful and make mistakes
  • you're too busy to grow the business

If that sounds like you, you should consider early actions to escape from the spiral before it's too late.

The trouble is, when there are more things you could be doing than there are hours in the day to do them, how do you choose which tasks to do and which to drop or delegate when they all look equally important or can only be done by you? Well the obvious answer is to identify the really important tasks that have to be done by you and then focus on doing them. OK, so how do you do that?

Phil describes what can be done in his article Sorting out the Chaos. The process is called strategic management.

Good Networking!
Martin Davies

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Is there a right time to leave a networking group?

This post was inspired when I was asked recently for a quote for a new book from Andy Lopata on when to leave a networking group.

There are times when you move on in business and different networking groups become more appropriate. If you are networking as part of an overall plan then you will be able to work out when to move on. My experience is that more people leave for the wrong reasons than the right reasons. Many people leave groups because they never really worked out why they should be there in the first place!

Then there are the people who do it for a year and stop because they think it isn’t working. The great shame is that they are usually at the point where their investment is about to reap rewards. They have become known, liked, rated and trusted. Instead of strengthening the relationships they have built they move on to start the whole process again with new people.

Most weeks I will be at an event and someone will ask where X or Y is because they have something for them. If I say they have left the group they almost always ask for a recommendation to somebody else even if I offer to pass their message on.

Good Networking!
Dave Clarke