Warren Buffett is the person to follow not only if you are seeking intellectual ways to perform trade and stock pickings but in the practical way that he lives his life. No, he isn’t perfect, but there is a method to his madness. Despite the fact that he is a multi-billionaire with stakes in several companies from See’s Candy and Johnson & Johnson to the Coca-Cola Company he has a strategy that’s actually simple.
In The Warren Buffett Way by Robert G. Hagstrom, you will learn the characteristics behind the investments as displayed in Chapter Four: Common Stock Purchases: Nine Case Studies. I have been a fan of Buffett for decades and have read several books about him, and each time I come away with something different about him. In this book, you will learn the various ways in how Buffett processes his investments, as well as learning about his principles and practices.
From his childhood to his mentoring relationships, everything that he has encountered has been instrumental in the choices that have made about his success as displayed in Chapter Two: The Education of Warren Buffett. You will learn from this book that it takes practice to acquire not only the financial gain that Buffett is known for but the most important thing is to fully understand the industry in which you have an interest in investing in. Did you know that your knowledge of industry commodities will help you to obtain a more sound investment decision?
While everyone may not obtain the same financial gain as Buffett, it is always a great practice to understand the man behind this simple principle as shown in Chapter Six: The Psychology of Investing. As Buffett states “patience is the key.” As you will see in Chapter Eight: The World’s Greatest Investor, Buffet states it simply “How I got here is pretty simple in my case. It is not IQ; I’m sure that you will be glad to hear. The big thing is rationality…..”
In Buffett’s Tenets: Business, Management, Financial and Markets you will be taught the various aspects of the decision-making process. As an added feature watch the movie, Becoming Warren Buffet, where you will learn not only about the man and his billions. Also, you will learn about his wife, Susan, who died in 2004 but has left an indelible mark on who he is today.
Up until this point, you should have seen a variety of different articles that I have crafted for you from health care and access to capital to taxes. From the House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate to the numerous Small Business Policy Forum’s panel of experts these articles were written with you in mind, the business owner. I wanted to provide you with a wealth of information that you can benefit from in running your business. If you have missed any of the articles, click here:
In my last article, we will discuss the various aspects of portable benefits (includes healthcare, and retirement). We all know that small businesses have to get creative to acquire and maintain great talent. In order to do this, they must provide an assortment of benefits but should portable benefits be one of them?
Let’s look at this conversation two ways:
Scenario One: As an employer, you are responsible for a lot of people from your employees to their families but what happens when your employee decides to leave the company? Should you be responsible for their portable benefits? If so, for how long? Or should they be responsible for their own?
Scenario Two: Your business uses several freelancers and contractors, you depend heavily on their talent and the services that they provide. So what happens when they decide to leave the company? Yes, they are not your employee but should you be responsible for their portable benefits? If so, for how long? Or should they be responsible for their own? Are your answers the same as it would be if they were your employee?
Regardless, of the way that you answer either of these questions, understand that the workforce is shifting. Retirees and millennials are entering the workforce and most are opting to become freelance or contract workers. With this type of workforce, establishing a universal portable benefits system is ideal.
In today’s marketplace contractors and freelancers has a focus on not only getting paid but seeking to assure that their healthcare and retirement benefits are paid, current and available when needed. Having a universal system would also help those employees that decide to leave a company but later determine that they wish to become an independent contractor or freelance worker instead. A portable benefit system should not only provide options to suit several needs but be affordable.
During the Portable Benefits: Creating An Infrastructure for Entrepreneursto Thrive panel myself and a few other industry experts discussed what portable benefits could mean to small business owners including freelance and contract workers. In all honesty, small business owners want to see that their employees get the best because they are the ones that are helping to make the company profitable.
According to panelist, John Scott, Retirement Savings Director, The Pew Charitable Trusts, “66% of full-time employees are offered portable benefits, 48% of the employers want to help their employees save for retirement, and 22% of employers lack an internal administrative resource that will allow them to start and maintain a portable benefits system.”
For the sake of argument, let’s focus on retirement. While there are a lot of choices out there, there are several types of plans available, let’s explore a few:
For the sake of healthcare should the U.S. adopt a system that is universal for everyone as I discussed in ObamaCare vs the ACA? One thing that is prohibiting more small business owners from offering portable benefits is costs. From administrative setup and upkeep to contributions, should there be some type of subsidy programs in place to help offset these costs?
If so, should the programs be subsidized by the federal government? Or should this be a local or State financial responsibility? “Individuals that wish to do so, should be able to provide their own portable benefits and not be subjected to a specific employer but there must be multiple plans and options available, like a common or shared interest program,” Shilpa Phadke, Senior Director, Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress.
With some support, this will allow the new and emerging workforce the ability to take on the responsibility for their own future and not leave these critical pieces in the hands of others, especially since they are not an employee of the company. As a portable benefits plan is being created it should meet the needs of the freelancer or contract worker with minimum financial disruption during their Golden Years. As previously stated we business owners need to get creative in how we acquire and maintain the talent to run our businesses.
There are several ways that companies are becoming creative in their efforts to obtain the deliverables that they require. Below you will see several examples of which the first two companies offer full portable benefits, the third company offers partial portable benefits and the last offers no portable benefits but provides the revenue that freelancers and contractors can use to fund their portable benefits plan:
Company 1: 26-hour work-week for full-time employees but these employees are paid for a 40-hour work-week. This helps to offset the childcare and costs that these employees may encounter otherwise. By implementing this small step, this small business owner has been able to increase their revenue and productivity while creating an asset for their employees.
Company 2: One of my clients, offers several company benefits from wholesale catalog discounts; vacation, sick and family leave; and charity contributions matching to other types of personal flexibility. The interesting thing is that the majority of the benefits that this company offers if out of the company’s Profit and Loss (P&L). We all know that normally these costs are what the small business owners use to live off of but instead, this client passes these profits on to their employees.
Company 3: Employees may not be provided a full portable benefits package but they are instead offered profit sharing and are co-owners of the company that they work for.
Company 4: I work with several freelance and contract Since I am unable to provide them with portable benefits, I try to look for ways to provide them a long-term Return on Investment (ROI). One option is that I offer them revenue sharing on a project, that has a long-term, steady income flow. In this case, the workers obtain revenue for a number of years, which they can use to invest and fund their portable benefit accounts.
For those small businesses that offer an entrée of portable benefits including family leave should there be tax credits? It is difficult to determine how portable benefits should roll out for small businesses, freelancers or contract workers but it should exist. Here are some other discussions about portable benefits that may interest you:
If you have any concerns about how portable benefits will affect you consider the following:
Contact your local representative or your State’s Senator
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper
Consider an Op-Ed (Opinion-Editorial)
Once again I thank you for your support and the opportunity to serve you. Subscribe to The JEGroupZone to stay up to date on articles and information about initiatives, programs, and issues that will affect you and your small business. As always, if you have a concern or issue that you would like for me to cover or talk about on your behalf in the near future please feel free to contact me at Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup).
“Don’t just stand by, be a part of the conversation.” Vernita Naylor
Did you know that everyone is blessed with a gift? Gifts can vary from being an advocate for change like Caesar Chavez, and a good parent to being an inventor that helps to improve the environmental climate like Nikola Tesla. Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story by Dr. Ben Carson is an autobiography about the ebbs and flow into the life of Dr. Ben Carson. From the beginning, it appeared that his life would have taken a turn for the worse from learning challenges and self-esteem issues to having a violent temper but one-day things changed. It was partly due to his spiritual connection that helped him to hone not only his temper but his gift.
What’s beautiful about this book is that here is an African-American man that defeated the odds that were stacked up against him. It displays an example of someone that minority children can look up to and see someone with brown skin like them that have been able to hold several prominent specialty titles under his belt from neurosurgeon, plastic surgeon, oncologist, and pediatrics to the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at John Hopkins Medical Hospital. Now, isn’t this an excellent example of overcoming?!
There are some principles that you will learn in this book about how Dr. Carson was able to overcome those challenges. The strategy that Dr. Carson utilized is called the THINK BIG principles. Let me give you a little teaser about what these principles stand for:
Come with me and let’s partake in the atmosphere at the Famous Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, Washington. First, do you love what you do for a living or do you despise your career or job? Is everyone engaged and on board in obtaining the team’s mission or is there someone that needs a little stimulation or refocus to help reach the team’s goal?
FISH: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results by Stephen C Lundin, Ph.D., Harry Paul, and John Christensen is about collaboration, leadership, and seeking innovative ways to improve the team’s spirits and accomplish team goals. If your team needs a boost to become involved in goal setting they will surely learn a lot from reading this book. Mary Jane received a promotion but to her surprise, it could be considered a kiss of death, she was responsible for those on the third floor.
The third floor was considered so dead that it would suck the life right out of you. The promotion was great but how could she turn things around in working on the third floor. She found her answer when she visited the Famous Pike Place Fish Market. This fish market was known for its energy, teamwork, and creativity but she wondered how could she transfer what she saw there to the people on the third floor. Mary Jane continually visiting the fish market and created a memorable process that she was able to use and effectively transform the third floor.
Personally, I know how hard it can be to educate and train people that have been conditioned to think and operate in a specific fashion. People get in a rut and become robots on their jobs, which makes it difficult to incorporate anything new into the process. In FISH: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results by Stephen C Lundin, Ph.D., Harry Paul, and John Christensen the steps that were outlined in the book can be paramount in helping any type of team to make a paradigm shift:
Choose your attitude in how you show up and perform
Implement fun and playtime which improves the energy of the team
Make the customers’ day
Be present at work
Providing team with tasks and action items, enforcing accountability, and creating expected deliverables are the ways to bring unity, improve morale and obtain the desired results. What strategies are you using to motivate your team?
SERIES 3 – DAY 2 NATIONAL PRESS CLUB Technology and Minority Entrepreneurship
Day 2 at the Summit continues after our morning panel: Access to Capital (Series 2). If you haven’t read Access to Capital (Series 2) yet please make sure that you do so because you are missing a treat. Next, as we move on to Series 3 you will hear about our breakout sessions. We had a plethora of morning and afternoon breakout sessions to choose from they ranged from Women’s Entrepreneurship, New Capital Opportunities: Crowdfunding, Freelance and Micro-Enterprise Economy, Workforce and Technology to Minority Entrepreneurship. These intimate specialized sessions were instrumental to us as business owners because they gave us the ability to work in small, concentrated groups to allow us an opportunity to voice our concerns.
In this series you will hear about the Minority Entrepreneurship and Technology Breakout Sessions that were personal to business owners Michelle and Todd Trotter of Trotter Industries, LLC and Remy Meraz of Maven Experience respectively. Michelle and Todd Trotter attended the Minority Entrepreneurship session which was facilitated by Rhea Aguinaldo, Manager of Entrepreneurship/Northern CA Outreach Manager (Small Business Majority); Christine Chin Ryan (Synergy Consulting, Inc); Marcia Davalos, National Hispanic Outreach Manager/Southern California Outreach Manager (Small Business Majority) and Tim Gaudette Colorado Outreach Manager (Small Business Majority).
The Trotters had the opportunity to provide their experience as being a subcontractor in the janitorial industry. For them having the ability to have their voices heard was paramount for them in moving forward in their business. Access to government contracts is a concern of Samuel Hughes, President, Capital Real Estate Group, in his letter to me for the Summit. We hope that in hearing about the Trotter’s experience, as well as some tips from me will not only help Sam but you the reader in leverage this information:
We attended the Minority Entrepreneurship break out session and during the session the panel asked a question about bidding practices and what were some of the issues that we had experienced. We told them that the Janitorial Service industry has high competition, and we noticed that the same company always got the bid award every time the contract was up for renewal and/or bid. We’re inclined to think that maybe someone is getting paid under the table because this particular company has been awarded the same contract for 25 years. It’s unfair that we are certified as a minority business and we still have not been able to get awarded this contract. We provide quality services and this should mean something, not how much you can pay to get the contract. We are the subcontractor for the prime and we do all of the work but do not get credit for it! As a subcontractor under this prime we buy all of the supplies to get the job done! After all that’s what’s done as a subcontractor, we were not given the opportunity to be a prime because the buyer believes that we are not big enough. Little does the buyer know is that we have the ability to operate as a prime because we are actually already doing it. We believe that this needs to change by giving more opportunities to subcontractors after they have been working on a contract with a prime after a few years.
We appreciated Michelle and Todd Trotter, Trotter Industries, LLC for taking out the time from their busy schedules to tell us about their experience at the Small Business Leadership Summit 2015. If you want to know more about them visit them at http://www.trotterindustries.net/, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 414-446-1604.
Here are some questions that you should ask yourself to help leverage your business and to gain access to contracts with both government and corporate entities:
Who are your top three ideal customer(s)?
Do you know what it takes to partner with them (i.e. supplier diversity certification)?
Do you have the products or services that interest them?
Can you provide solutions for them with your products or services?
Can you successfully provide the deliverables as required (i.e. local, State, regional or national)?
How do you establish a relationship with your ideal customer(s) (i.e. call, register, etc)?
Do you have a solid capability statement?
First, if you are unable to fully answer any of the questions thoroughly then you need to begin working from there. Secondly, like Marcus Lemonis (The Profit) says People, Process and Product determines your capabilities as a business owner. Lastly, people do business with those that they trust; this is why referrals and word-of-mouth is so effective in anything from philanthropy efforts, getting a job and choosing a restaurant to a vacation destination. Trust and relationships are instrumental in getting a contract just like anything else in life.
Next, is the Technology Breakout session the panel included Jenny Backus, Google, Head of Strategic Outreach & Engagement; Senior Policy Advisor and Zachary Davis, The Glass Jar. Now let’s hear from Remy Meraz of Maven Experience as she tells us what the Technology session taught her as an ecommerce business owner:
The biggest challenge I have faced as a tech startup is the lack of variety in Internet providers in my region and the unreliability of the telecommunications infrastructure in the US. After doing some research, I have come to understand that the reason for this can be traced back to the laws currently in place. Prior to launching my company, the Maven Experience, an online education and entertainment company, I never gave much thought to the importance of information technology services and/or providers. In fact, I took it for granted. When I worked in corporate, I had the convenience of relying on the IT department of the company I worked for. Now, when I have a service related issues, I must deal with my Internet provider, who are not always the most reliable or responsive to my needs. Now that I am running a startup that relies 100% on the Internet to operate and generate revenue, that telecom infrastructure has become a vital organ to scaling our business successfully. Slow or zero access to the Internet can literally paralyze our operations for hours or days at a time, something we’ve experienced on a regular basis since launching in April. It was encouraging to see that Google and policymakers have invested interest in the technology needs of small businesses. Participating in the Technology breakout session has allowed me to look at and explore the laws and policies surrounding technology, telecommunications, and e-commerce and their effects on small businesses. As small businesses continue to voice their needs, I hope the laws of our nation will evolve accordingly. The digital economy is here to stay and it is evolving at a rapid rate, quicker than the laws and policies are able to keep up. It’s time for our policymakers to make this a priority.
In the article it was mentioned about Google having a vested interest in helping small businesses and they are doing so with their introduction of Google Fiber. Google Fiber offers fast internet speed up to 1 gigabyte for about $100 per month. To find out more about Google Fiber or to see if the services are located in your area click here https://fiber.google.com/smallbusiness/.
What are some of your thoughts on the access to government or corporate contracts or prime vs subcontractor relationships? How has technology affected your business? We would love to hear from you? Of all of the submittals we will choose a few comments to post, will it be yours?