Making Billions the Simple Way

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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.

B.E.S.T. Publishing (A Division of Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup)
bestpublishing@jabezenterprisegroup.com

Living in the Black Hole

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Do you like science? Does stories and facts about The Big Bang Theory interests you? Well, astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil DeGrasse Tyson does not disappoint in Astrophysics for People in a Hurry. Neil, the host of the Star Talk Radio show, tells us about the aspects of science, cosmos and the universe. In this small power-packed book Neil, in the exciting way in which he, provides the reader with a simple view on the various mechanics of the cosmos from the black hole, and the planets to all of the other stimulating elements that create the universe. In today’s society, everyone is busy and always seems to be in such a hurry this book is for you. If you have questions, Neil has the answers.

I love watching Neil because as an astrophysicist he can make the elements of science easy and palatable. He has created a way to make a subject that can seem so indigestible easy to absorb and embrace. Neil has a whole slew of work that takes science to another level from Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries and his memoir, The Sky Is Not the Limit: Adventures of An Urban Astrophysicist to Star Talk: Everything You Need to Know About Space Travel, Sci-Fi, the Human Race, the Universe and Beyond, which by the way displays colorful illustrations, pictures and images associated with the world of science. If you love science, like listening to Neil or new to his work, this is a must-have for your library.

B.E.S.T. Publishing (A Division of Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup)
bestpublishing@jabezenterprisegroup.com

Being A Business That Benefits

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:

  1. Tax Reform or Tax Cut
  2. ObamaCare vs the ACA
  3. Back to Basics

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 Entrepreneurs to 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

Vernita Naylor
Founder/Owner, Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup)
Small Business Ambassador Since 2001
services@jabezenterprisegroup.com
https://jabezenterprisegroup.com/

 

Back to Basics For Business Growth

Photo Courtesy: Small Business Majority

Being a business owner is not for the weak at heart. It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to juggle all of the balls and to keep them afloat in the air. Business owners have a lot of pressure on them because they are responsible for a lot of people from the community and their employees or subcontractors to their families.

Despite the fact that small businesses are the catalyst for job creation, economic growth and stimulating the community, accessing capital for their business is still a thorn in the side for many, primarily within the diverse communities. The Access to Capital: The Key to Small Business Growth and Economic Development panelist was candid about the culture of the financial institution practices on lending. With their gut-wrenching advice they were able to provide us the tools and resources that we would need to stay in the game.

As we all know the lending practices today has adversely affected millions of underrepresented and disadvantaged businesses for centuries from home to business ownership. When a small business owner, particularly from the diverse community, applies for a loan there are continual biases and prejudices that the system possess. You can provide every documentation required, have collateral and still can run up against a loan denial.

There is a great deal of discrimination in lending,” David Newvill, Director of Federal Policy, Prosperity Now. One of the business owners that attended the Small Business Policy Forum was transparent about his lending experience. Here is an overview of what he displayed to us:

He has been in business for over 10 years. He needed funding to help take his business to the next level. He provided all of the required documentation, however, he experienced a glitch. The glitch was that according to Sage Stream Reporting, which was used for credit reporting by the financial institution that he was working with, his profile came back not creditworthy. The irony was that he stated that Sage Stream Reporting had the wrong person and that their findings of his creditworthiness were incorrect. These errors that were reported by Sage Stream Reporting is what caused his application to be denied, despite the fact that he tried everything to correct the mistakes that Sage Stream Reporting had made.

As you can see outside of the three big credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax or Experian there are other companies coming online that is tremendously affecting business lending. Everyone in attendance including the panel of experts wanted to know exactly who is Sage Stream Reporting. The irony is that no one knew or had ever hear of this company, including the panelist. Isn’t that interesting?!

Do you know who your lenders use to access information about you? “Only 53% of those that apply for loans actually receive the requested amount,” Joyce Klein, Director of Microenterprise Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning, and Dissemination (FIELD), Aspen Institute. As a small business owner, my question is why only 53%?

There is truly something wrong here. “Be aware of merchant cash advance services,” Joyce Klein. What is she talking about?

Just like Sage Stream Reporting has entered the marketplace so has unregulated sharks pertaining to lending. These sharks are ready to offer you an unsecured loan but at a higher Annual Percentage Rate (APR).  In order to obtain access to capital to help grow your business, these lenders require access to your checking account.

The purpose for this access is so that they can debit your account for daily payments and if you decide to pay off the loan early, there is an early prepayment penalty attached. Don’t wait until you need the money for your business growth locate a lender now and get your ducks in a row. If you feel pushed up against a wall you are more than likely to get a loan at any costs.

For the larger institutes that are regulated like your major bank, these financial institutions do not see the value in lending to you. As they see it, the costs to underwrite a loan is the same, whether the dollar amount requested is $2,500, 25,000, $250,000 or $2.5 million dollars. The bottom line is their bottom line!

Manny Hidalgo, Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Capital Access indicated that SBA has been fully aware of the biases that minorities are receiving within the banking community so they are creating more programs that are designed to help offset some of the costs and risks that big banks may face in lending to diverse communities. “SBA lenders look at other things outside of your FICO Score. We also have a Lending Match Program that is designed to match lenders with business owners,’ says Manny.

In today’s marketplace business owners should be aware of the Small Business Borrower’s Bill of Rights,” Jessica Milano, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Small Business, Community Development, and Housing Policy, U.S. Department of Treasury, which is designed to operate using better lending practices. There are six key initiatives that these Rights operate under:

  • The Right to Transparent Pricing and Terms
  • The Right to Non-Abusive Products
  • The Right to Responsible Underwriting
  • The Right to Fair Treatment from Brokers
  • The Right to Inclusive Credit Access
  • The Right to Fair Credit Practices

I have a suggestion, let’s go back to basics. How does that look? How would it work?

Going back to basics is looking at lending institutions with a vested interest in your business success. Take your money out of the major banks and begin looking at partnering with your local, community bank. Another back to basic move would be to look into crowdfunding programs like KIVA. Or borrow from family and friends and if they need an incentive consider revenue sharing or providing them a share in the business.

Lauren Stebbins, Vice President of Small Business Initiatives, Opportunity Finance Network provided several other back to basic resources that can be beneficial to business owners that are seeking the necessary technical assistance and programs to help finance their needs:

Remember, as a small business owner you must continue to make your voice heard and to stay up to date on small business issues by reaching out to these organizations and your Senators now:

Once again I thank you for the opportunity to serve you and for your support.  If you have a concern or issue that you would like for me to talk about on your behalf within the near future please feel free to contact me.

“Don’t just stand by, be a part of the conversation.” Vernita Naylor

Vernita Naylor
Founder/Owner, Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup)
Small Business Ambassador Since 2001
services@jabezenterprisegroup.com
www.jabezenterprisegroup.com

 

Speak in Colors with Tech

Vernita Naylor Speaking Card (Tech Inclusion) 2017

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are terms that are continually being circulated within the marketplace. D&I normally ties into employee and employer relationships as it pertains to Fortune 500 and government companies but what about small business owners, shouldn’t they become a part of the conversation also? At Tech Inclusion 2017, during my Speaking in Colors session, I will talk about how anyone, particularly business owners, can use their diversity to maximize their inclusive partnerships. Register today https://sf17.techinclusion.co/.

For more information about us visit http://jabezenterprisegroup.com/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARE YOU PROTECTED?

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With Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Periscope, PayPal, Hangout and Google Wallet within the marketplace there are so many technological tools to choose from for so many uses. With the advancement of technology that is designed to make our lives easier it is also making it easier for hackers as well.  How are you protecting yourself?

Here are some quick tips to help you stay above the curb of getting hacked despite the technology tools that you are using:

  1. Social Media – change your log-in passwords frequently. A good practice that could be somewhat cumbersome is to do the log in updates on a quarterly basis.
  2. Computer – (especially a PC) choose a reliable virus protection software like Norton Virus to help safeguard against computer intrusions. A good practice is to run the diagnostic report, live update, file cleanup and optimize disk on a bi-monthly basis depending upon your usage. Run the quick and full scan on a regular basis.  If you are a heavy Facebook user there is a scanning tool just for that.  Or you can customize your scan it is all up to you.  Whatever you do scan to protect your computer.
  3. For your website choose a hosting company that provides daily scanning and remediation services. Or you can look into a software program such as Sucuri or Site Lock to provide additional protection for your website.
  4. If you are using WordPress for your website back office make sure that you are familiar with the plug-ins to know which ones are ideal for you. Be careful about the plug-ins that you choose because it could cause your website to experience some technical difficulties.  These plug-ins are not designed specifically by WordPress but by third-party programmers so use them with caution.

I am sure that you can think of several other ways to safeguard yourself online but regardless of whatever you choose do so wisely.   Do your due diligence to avoid getting hacked.

Connect with me at Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup), @JEGroupBizLinkedIn, Facebook to see what we are doing next, receive consulting or training services, speaking engagements or for copies of Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps: An Interactive Guide to Government Contracting for your business or certification program.

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Vernita Naylor
Founder/Owner Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup)

“Don’t think small, think business” says Vernita Naylor.

Technology and Minority Entrepreneurship (Series 3)

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Minority Entrepreneurship Panel (Breakout Session)

SERIES 3 – DAY 2 NATIONAL PRESS CLUB
Technology and Minority Entrepreneurship

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Minority Entrepreneurship Breakout Session Attendees

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).

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Michelle and Todd Trotter (Trotter Industries, LLC) Photo Courtesy: Trotter Industries, LLC

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 trottermilwk@aol.com 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:

  1. Who are your top three ideal customer(s)?
  2. Do you know what it takes to partner with them (i.e. supplier diversity certification)?
  3. Do you have the products or services that interest them?
  4. Can you provide solutions for them with your products or services?
  5. Can you successfully provide the deliverables as required (i.e. local, State, regional or national)?
  6. How do you establish a relationship with your ideal customer(s) (i.e. call, register, etc)?
  7. 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.

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Technology Breakout Session Photo Courtesy: Remy Meraz (Maven Experience)

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:

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Remy Meraz (Maven Experience) Photo Courtesy: Remy Meraz (Maven Experience)

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/.

If anyone is interested in learning more about Remy Meraz, Maven Experience visit www.mavenexperience.com, email remy@mavenexperience.com, or call 619.977.9626. You can also connect with her at Twitter: @remymeraz | @mavenexperience Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/themavenexperience.

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?

Connect with us @JEGroupBiz on Twitter, or Jabez Enterprise Group on LinkedIn or Facebook to see what we are doing next or to see your post. Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps: An Interactive Guide to Government Contracting today.  

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Photo Courtesy: Dawson Imagery

Vernita Naylor
Founder/Owner Jabez Enterprise Group  (JEGroup)
Author, Get the Cheese, Avoid the Traps

All photos courtesy of Vernita Naylor, Jabez Enterprise Group (JEGroup) Unless Otherwise Noted.