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Monthly Archive for July, 2010

The “Age of the Customer™” goes interactive

One of the major topics I’m devoting a lot of my time and resources to these days is talking and writing about what I call the “Age of the Customer.”  In this new Age, the Customer is in control and the Seller is subordinate for one primary reason: access to information.  Today, Customers have almost all the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision.

In the new Age, connecting with Customers is more important than marketing to them.  And what better way to connect with Customers than to provide an interactive element to the relationship?

Recently, on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about interacting with Customers with Joseph Jaffe.  Joe is an outstanding member of my Brain Trust, and we talked about the shift toward interacting with Customers, plus other paradigms that are shifting away from 20th century marketing toward 21st century connection and communication with prospects and customers. In his day-job, Joe is the President and Chief Interruptor of crayon and author of Life After the 30-Second Spot and Flip the Funnel.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to what Joe and I have to say and, as always, be sure to leave your comments. Listen Live! Download, Too!

How leading small business CEOs prepare for the recovery

Reading newspapers, magazines and online, watching the talking heads on TV or listening to the geniuses on the radio, when the topic is about economic recovery most of the coverage focuses on the national or global situation.  And if you’re a stock trader or run a national or global company, this information is likely to be valuable.

But if you’re a small business CEO, the talking head noise must not distract you from the dealing with the reality that your economic recovery is influenced most by what’s going on in two much smaller pieces of geography:

1.  Within a few miles of your business: Your ability to serve real customers whose names you know, not the ones represented in statistical references.

2.  Within the space between your ears: Get out of your own way and execute as if there was no bad news.

Recently, on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked with Vistage leader, Stephen Baum, about how leading small business CEOs he knows are preparing for the recovery. Stephen has been a member of my Brain Trust for a number of years and is an adviser and coach to CEOs for more than twenty years. He is also the author of, What Made Jack Welch Jack Welch.”

Be sure to take a few minutes to listen to my visit with this world-class management expert and be sure to leave your own thoughts. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Acquiring a small business: Should you buy stock or assets?

Acquiring a small business that is already established in the marketplace and has customers coming in the door is an excellent strategy that serves two different purchasers:

1. A start-up gets a jump-start on small business ownership by not having to start from a blank sheet of paper.  The existing location, customer list, even the phone number, has real value.

2.  An established business can use the growth-by-acquisition practice to provide an accelerant to augment the more deliberate organic growth.

Either way, both buyers have to take the same steps in making such an acquisition, including the due diligence, which includes making the decision of whether to purchase the company by buying the stock or allowing the existing business to dissolve and merely buy the assets.  Both have their own particular merits, but in the main, buying assets is typically the more likely choice.

Recently, on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about how to make the “stock versus assets” decision with one of the resident attorneys in my Brain Trust, Cliff Ennico. We discuss specific examples of when you should buy just the assets of a company and when you should buy the stock. We also talks about when to incorporate and when to use a limited liability company (LLC).

Cliff Ennico specializes in legal and tax issues for small businesses and is a popular instructor at eBay University. He is a frequent contributor to Entrepreneur magazine and the author of The ebay Seller’s Tax and Legal Answer Book and Small Business Survival Guide.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to my visit with Cliff, and be sure to leave your own thoughts. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Freedom isn’t free

Contemplating the blessing of freedom, wherever it may be found, one prime truth is evident: Freedom is not free. And for those of us who are the beneficiaries of those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, the only method of repayment - the only way we can ever be worthy of their sacrifice - is if we do all we can to maintain the freedom that has been dearly paid for and given to us.

I have published the poem below on many occasions in the past because it reminds us of the cost of something that we hold as one of our greatest blessings but too often take for granted.  Unfortunately, I do not know the author’s name.

Freedom Isn’t Free
I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He’d stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?
How many pilots’ planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves?
No, freedom isn’t free.

I heard the sound of taps one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant “Amen,”
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn’t free.

My friends, I pray that we never forget those who paid so dearly for our freedom.  Have a safe, happy and respectful Independence Day. God bless America.