Your Business Mission – What the Heck Do You Do, Anyway?

Do you really need a business mission statement? Is it just some fancy words to put in that business plan that collections dust on your shelf, or is there really more to it?

One of the key attributes of successful businesses is that they clearly know what they do. Defining the goal or the "mission" of your business can be the key to your success.

A good mission statement does three things:

"States what business you are in." Defines your target market. "Provides inspiration for your business.

One of the best examples of a mission statement comes from Levi Strauss & Co. [http://www.levistrauss.com/Company/ValuesAndVision.aspx]

"We will market and distribute the most appealing and widely worn apparel brands. Our products define quality, style and function. We will clothe the world."

Clothing the world is a pretty lofty goal, but Levi Strauss has the ability to do this for one reason — Their founder, Levi Strauss, started the business with a mission and focus.

Levi started his wholesale dry goods business in San Francisco February, 1853. Rather than hoping to make his fortune in the Gold Rush, he created a fortune by wholesaling clothing and fabric to the small stores supplying the thousands of miners and later, families of the West.

In 1872, he was contacted by Jacob Davis, a tailor who had developed a method to rivet the stress points of the pants he made from fabric he bought from-you guessed it — Levi Strauss. Jacob did not have the funds to patent the process, so he teamed up with Levi Strauss to patent the original blue jean in 1873. The rest is history.

Now, if Levi Strauss was your typical small business, he would probably have spun off in ten different directions in their early years, but the company remained focused on supplying quality clothing and fabrics to the working men and women of the West, and later the world. Rather than focusing on their core market, they would have fallen into the AFAB method … Anything for a Buck.

Most small businesses suffer from this lack of focus.

When we work with struggling business owners, the first thing we ask them is "What is your bread and butter?" What one product or service provides you with the majority of your business profit?

Unfortunately, most business owners can not answer that question. They did not define their core product or service and target market when they started, and end up doing a little bit of everything, and nothing well.

Or, they focus most of their time on a product or service line that they like, without knowing whether it actually is their most profitable.

Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this problem.

You have to determine your gross profit margin from each of your product lines or services. Get together with your accountant, and figure out what you need to do to separate your revenue and expenses by the major product lines of your business. Then, you can find out your gross profit margin, or the percentage of gross profit you receive from each activity.

The product or service with the highest gross profit margin is your core business activity. It is the bread and butter of your business, and the key to your company profits.

Now, you must focus as much of your company resources as possible on this core activity. Market it, systemize it, and turn your business into a machine for duplicating this product or service over and over again.

What happens?

Well, rather than running around like a chicken with your head cut off, putting out fires all over your business, you suddenly have the focus to know where to spend your time and energy. You know your core, and you can work to make a good thing even better.

This focus will transform your business and your life.

Remember the term "Jack of All Trades, but Master of None"? You can not really really good at something without focus, and focusing on your most profitable core product or service will make your business even more efficient.

Does this mean that you should never expand beyond your core? Of course not, but you must make sure you are really good at your core product or service before you venture into different directions. Creating a strong bread and butter business will give you the base necessary to expand.

Your core product or service is the foundation for your business. Build it well.

Tips When Seeking Your Automobile Extended Warranty

You may have heard that "research is critical" when it comes to purchasing an extended warranty for your automobile. Sometimes auto extended warranties are depicted in a negative light because of a few scam artists looking to capitalize off peoples' concern for their investments.

A recent Consumer Reports study recommended that people buy highly rated models only and that they invest in Money Market accounts to save for repairs, rather than invest in a warranty. However, if you tend to incur a good number of auto repair bills, if you plan on keeping your car more than three years and if you drive your car over the recommended 12,000 miles annually, then you are a good candidate for the extended warranty program .

Dealerships know that consumers trust them, by nature. An establishment that deals with billions of dollars in sales each year could not possibly rip you off over a technicality like the extended warranty, could they? Well, maybe they do not mean to rob you blind, but think of the dealership as a retail operation.

If you've ever worked in retail, whether it's clothing, furniture, consumer gadgets or automobiles, then you know that retailers mark up the cost of their items anywhere from 100% to 1,000% of the cost value! Now imagine how much extra you could be paying for your extended vehicle warranty. Do not be afraid to go directly to the source and purchase your warranty online from a trusted company like Warranty Direct.

Another factor to consider is auto warranty for "wear and tear." This type of warranty can be hard to find, since many only cover mechanical failure. However, you can definitely find extended warranty coverage that includes "wear and tear," thereby covering parts like the idler arm, piston rings, U joints, CV joints, wheel bearings, motor mounts, suspension bushings, tie rod ends, seals, gaskets and other engine parts that typically wear down and may or may not cause a mechanical breakdown.

If you have an anti-lock braking system, then you'll want to make sure your coverage extends to ABS and instances of overheating. The comprehensive website, carbuyingtips.com recommends Warranty Direct and Nation Warranty Corporation, which both include "wear and tear" in their plans.

The most important thing is that you do not feel rushed or hassled into securing the extended warranty for your car immediately. Most auto warranties allow you the option of buying later; yet of course, you should only delay as you research, rather than allowing enough time to elapse so your car is a liability. Like with health insurance, it's much harder to get coverage once problems arise.

As with anything, the extended auto warranty is a "buyer beware" scenario, but if you do some homework and understand your auto habits, then the couple of thousand you pay today can save you a small fortune tomorrow.

Web Hosting Options for Small Business

It seems that so many times it is hard for the little guy to get a leg up in the business world. Every supplier or service that you talk to is only interested in catching the larger fish and is totally disinterested in you. When it comes to finding a web host for your website it can often times be no different sometimes. Sure they have service plans that you can cut costs with but how do you know just what you need to get by.

There are a few simple rules to follow if you are in the market for a budget web hosting plan that at the same time does not leave you empty handed on the essential services that you will be needing from time to time. If your website is less than one-hundred pages and does not have any data intensive components such as streaming videos than you can get by with the bare minimum amount of bandwidth and gigabytes of memory and that means a basic plan for about $ 5.

If you have more than one-hundred pages and or your pages are heavy laden with text and photos then you may want to take the option of shared web hosting for about $ 10 which is going to give you more bandwidth and memory. That is what you will need for the bare bones basic web hosting service if that is all that you need. You have to bear in mind though that what you are going to be doing with your website also has to be considered.

For instance; if your site is just for reference purposes that is supporting a non Internet business in your community then you can still get by with the low cost basic web hosting service. If however your business is an Internet business that changes the picture considerably. This is because, unless you are marketing a product that only you have and no one can live without, you will be in competition of untold numbers of other people on the Internet.

This then means that you are going to have to engage in some level of website promotion or SEO which stands for search engine optimization. If you do not, then every time that someone types in the keywords to look for what ever it is that your website is selling you will be the last in line with regards to prospective sellers.

SEO can be approached two different ways with regards to a prospective web hosting service. The first way is to just pay them to promote your website and do the SEO for you but it is going to cost you.

The second way is to learn about SEO and then do it yourself. If you are going to do it yourself you will need to learn what basic tools you will be needing your web hosting service to have available. SEO is not overly complex but you do have to know what you are doing or all of your best efforts can be a waste of time.

Personal Budgeting: An Imperative

Budgeting is a basic part of accountancy.

Nations, states, cities, towns and every incorporated company have budgets. Every private company, or other commercial entity, worth its salt has a formal budget. So why is it that the vast majority of people do not use a formal budget in their private lives? They do budget of course. We all do in one way or another. But very, very few people have a good enough memory to successfully budget informally – that is, without writing it down. And it's when we forget to allow for some expense that we get into trouble. We get into debt. Is not that just about the worst feeling in the world – to be in unplanned debt?

To be poor is a sad experience – it's a state of mind. To be broke is an uncomfortable experience – but it's a temporary condition. To be in unplanned debt can be gut wrenching. And generally speaking, unplanned debt is just plain carelessness.

Why then does it happen? Simply because in the days before computers and calculators budgeting was a boring and time-consuming task. There was an awful lot of adding up to do and the darned thing had to be continuously adjusted as time went by, usually every month at least. So it was not surprising that most people just did not bother and as the generations passed by, so did the practice of ordinary people not preparing budgets for their personal finances. They just did not think that the value derived from maintaining a personal budget was worth the time consumed.

So what's changed? One very important factor: personal computers – they've just made it so easy that if you do not budget, you're making life unnecessarily difficult for yourself. It is now well and truly worth the very small investment of time to input a few lines of data every week. Because from that the computer can give you more financial reports than one person is ever likely to need. It will produce reports on tax payments; about what you've sent; about where you've spent it, about what you've spent it on and it will do that for any given period of your choosing. It'll find transactions that you've forgotten about but that suddenly you really need to know about. It will tell you how much money you will have in the bank next Christmas (or what you've got to stop spending money on so that you will have the amount of money you need in the bank next Christmas.)

The really big thing is that you will be in charge of your finances. It makes it so easy to explain to your dependents – be it spouse, partner or children; just exactly what the household can afford to spend, on what and when. Ninety-five percent of the arguments about money will go out the window because people will be able to see clearly what can and can not be done. If we buy you that cell phone, we will not be able to buy that game. You get the idea.

What software is best? Well there's no shortage of it. It's not expensive. The best is less than a hundred dollars and you'll save that in no time flat. Check out the choices available, and choose the one which best suits your personal needs. It will be well worth whatever you decide to invest in it. And it will most definitely save you lots of headaches and heartaches in the long run, if used properly.