Forming a Legally Enforceable Contract

by James Blake

The Blake Law Firm, PLLC.

James Blake is a growth-oriented business attorney who strives to be a creative business partner, to identify value-add opportunities, and to crystallize the relationships, structures, and processes that will drive your commercial success. James Blake practices law in Texas and Hawaii, and has protected the interests of businesses across a broad range of industries, including technology, construction, service and retail, food and beverage, franchisors and franchisees, product manufacturers, and investors. His work experience encompasses commercial transactions, litigation, and advising business operations in the U.S., Africa, and Asia. James was an editor of Law Review at the University of Hawaii and conducted international commercial law research for the Institute of Asian Pacific Business Law. He served as the Official Reporter for the 2008 IAPBL China Enterprise Bankruptcy Law Symposium held in Hong Kong, and in the same year worked at a large firm in Singapore. James currently advises clients in international business and investment issues in addition serving his client’s legal and business needs in Hawaii and Texas. Currently based in Austin, Texas, James is an avid writer and enjoys speaking at business-law seminars in addition to his legal practice. In his spare time, James enjoys sculling and kayaking on Ladybird Lake, outdoor photography, and supporting visual and performing arts.

Today’s blog is about the most fundamental issue in contract law: do you actually have a contract? While this might seem like a no-brainer, you’d be surprised at how many sophisticated businesses file lawsuits to dispute particular terms in a “contract” only to get the unpleasant surprise that the disputed terms are moot because there was no legally enforceable contract at all. Here are the necessary elements of a legally binding contract.

Topics: Sales, Business Best Practices, Legal

Audio podcast: 7 steps to help your customers through the buying process

by Jan Triplett

Business Success Center

Jan Triplett, Ph.D. is the CEO of the Business Success Center (BSC), a City of Austin certified green business, that provides sales and financial growth strategies, planning, and implementation. She is also a professor in Business and Professional Skills for the online MBA program at Mary Baldwin University. Triplett is a national and international speaker, author of A Networker’s Guide to Success and co-author of Thinking Big, Staying Small and Easy to be Green. She published The Networker ” magazine for over ten years and moderated KUT radio’s nationally syndicated program, “The Next 200 Years”. She was co-creator of the award-winning “City Management Academy” and the “Owners MBA” and co-founded the Entrepreneurs’ Association Hatchery incubator and accelerator. She is a small business activist. She served as a White House Conference on Small Business and Congressional Summit delegate, served on the Mayor’s Task Force on International Infrastructure, initiated the Northcross IBIZ District and recommended portions of Austin’s Big Box Ordinance. She was a founder of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Texas and the Greater Austin International Coalition. The SBA honored her as Texas’ Small Business Advocate. She has also earned her CBTAC and Director credentials. Her company received a Small Business Administration (SBA) five-star national award and the Austin Business Journal named it a top 20 management consulting firm.

Chris Bjorklund: Hello, I’m Chris Bjorklund for the Virtual Business Center. Today, I’m talking with Jan Triplett, the CEO of the Business Success Center in Austin, Texas. In an earlier podcast, Jan, we’ve talked about the steps customers take when buying. Tell us now how we can help them through this process, a small business can help them through this process?

Topics: Sales, Featured, Podcasts

Audio podcast: Jan Triplett discribes the reasons to search out platinum customer

by Jan Triplett

Business Success Center

Jan Triplett, Ph.D. is the CEO of the Business Success Center (BSC), a City of Austin certified green business, that provides sales and financial growth strategies, planning, and implementation. She is also a professor in Business and Professional Skills for the online MBA program at Mary Baldwin University. Triplett is a national and international speaker, author of A Networker’s Guide to Success and co-author of Thinking Big, Staying Small and Easy to be Green. She published The Networker ” magazine for over ten years and moderated KUT radio’s nationally syndicated program, “The Next 200 Years”. She was co-creator of the award-winning “City Management Academy” and the “Owners MBA” and co-founded the Entrepreneurs’ Association Hatchery incubator and accelerator. She is a small business activist. She served as a White House Conference on Small Business and Congressional Summit delegate, served on the Mayor’s Task Force on International Infrastructure, initiated the Northcross IBIZ District and recommended portions of Austin’s Big Box Ordinance. She was a founder of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Texas and the Greater Austin International Coalition. The SBA honored her as Texas’ Small Business Advocate. She has also earned her CBTAC and Director credentials. Her company received a Small Business Administration (SBA) five-star national award and the Austin Business Journal named it a top 20 management consulting firm.

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Topics: Sales, Customer Service, Podcasts

Impress your lender with sales key performance indicators

by Jos de Laat

DL Associates

Jos de Laat has throughout his career used the knowledge gained from his Master’s in Business Economics and his Master’s in Information Systems and Technology to help companies define and streamline business processes and automate them using state of the art technologies. With his extensive experience in finance, operations, sales, service and consulting he enjoys working with entrepreneurs and executive to focus on core business issues and in a collaborative approach design creative solutions that result in significant improvements in both top and bottom line. After many years in executive position in large, small and startup organizations Mr. de Laat has started his own consulting company, DL Associates. In this role he now provides business consultancy services with a focus on business process design and automation but when clients requests helps with other business related challenges like business planning, budgeting, system selection or interim management. In previous positions Mr. de Laat had the pleasure of working in over 40 different countries and as such he is also a great resource for organizations that are operating or want to operate outside of the US.

A good relationship with your lender is very important in order to get and maintain the funding levels you require. During my years as CFO and COO the lenders I dealt with always relied on historical financial data. Quarterly P&L, inventory listing, accounts receivable listing, etc. were submitted on specific intervals and once a year a face to face meeting to discuss how the business was doing and what the expectations for the next year were. Amongst other things we would talk about the budget for the next year but I always wondered how confident they felt about us achieving the sales targets in that budget.

Topics: Sales, Technology, Blog Posts, Risk Management

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7 Ways to Convert Your Website Traffic Into Cash

by Jed Jones

JCJ Interactive

Jed C. Jones, Ph. D., is the principal and founder of the interactive marketing company JCJ Interactive and the database marketing company Mind Ecology. Jed is a marketing problem solver and consultant, combining several skill sets - including online marketing, database analytics, writing and branding - to help his clients succeed. Previously, Jed led marketing efforts for numerous Fortune 50, midsize and small companies, including three years in enterprise products marketing for Dell, Inc. in Japan. He is fluent in written and spoken Japanese and has a working knowledge of six other languages. Jed holds degrees in Japanese (B.A.), business (M.B.A.) and organizational systems inquiry (Ph.D.).

Driving more traffic to your website is a good thing, right? The best answer to this question is a qualified "Yes."

Topics: Sales, Technology, Marketing, Articles

Getting to “NO!”

by Mike Romanie

FUEL Marketing and Sales

Michael is a hands-on Executive with more than 25 years experience profitably driving marketing, branding, sales, and operations for public and private companies ranging from start-ups and turn-arounds to divisions of multi-billion dollar multi-national entities. Michael’s career milestones include executive teams; raising more than $75 million from public and private sources, producing 2 IPOS (NASDAQ), being an officer of two Publicly traded companies and a divisional executive of three multi-national and two multi-billion dollar companies. Michael has managed operations with full P&L responsibility and has recruited and managed teams from start-up to more than 350 employees with national and international staff, highlights include; • At a technology products and services company reversed an operating loss and posted profits at 300% above plan within one year of accepting P&L. • Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for an imbedded microprocessor company securing 180 design-in’s with major companies including Nortel, IBM, Lucent and others. Lead the Recruitment of U.S. and Canadian Independent Sales representatives (70+), and 15 Design Support Development Partners, to rapidly gain market presence and design support. • Virtual Marketing and Sales Officer for a consumer software company: Increased revenue from $1.3MM to over $6.1M in less than 18 months. Closed key retailers including; QVC, BigLots!, Penney’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, TJX, Walgreens.com, The Shopping Channel (Canada) and others. Co-Managed multi-national Independent Rep. Firm covering accounts including; Costco, SAM’s Club, BJ’s, Target, Office Max, Office Depot, Best Buy and others. Developed Australian distributing accounting for 15% of annual revenue.

Most sales efforts, training and management focus on getting to Yes. In most cases, Yes, or an order, takes a full sales cycle. A lot of time and resources are spent on your leads and prospects pipelines. Getting to “No” while not as lucrative as a “Yes” can be just as important especially in the early stages of the sales cycle as getting to “Yes”.

Topics: Sales, Featured, Blog Posts

Startup sales by the founder

by Mike Romanie

FUEL Marketing and Sales

Michael is a hands-on Executive with more than 25 years experience profitably driving marketing, branding, sales, and operations for public and private companies ranging from start-ups and turn-arounds to divisions of multi-billion dollar multi-national entities. Michael’s career milestones include executive teams; raising more than $75 million from public and private sources, producing 2 IPOS (NASDAQ), being an officer of two Publicly traded companies and a divisional executive of three multi-national and two multi-billion dollar companies. Michael has managed operations with full P&L responsibility and has recruited and managed teams from start-up to more than 350 employees with national and international staff, highlights include; • At a technology products and services company reversed an operating loss and posted profits at 300% above plan within one year of accepting P&L. • Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for an imbedded microprocessor company securing 180 design-in’s with major companies including Nortel, IBM, Lucent and others. Lead the Recruitment of U.S. and Canadian Independent Sales representatives (70+), and 15 Design Support Development Partners, to rapidly gain market presence and design support. • Virtual Marketing and Sales Officer for a consumer software company: Increased revenue from $1.3MM to over $6.1M in less than 18 months. Closed key retailers including; QVC, BigLots!, Penney’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, TJX, Walgreens.com, The Shopping Channel (Canada) and others. Co-Managed multi-national Independent Rep. Firm covering accounts including; Costco, SAM’s Club, BJ’s, Target, Office Max, Office Depot, Best Buy and others. Developed Australian distributing accounting for 15% of annual revenue.

Many entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially when they are starting their businesses or their founder is a dynamic evangelical individual, make the initial sales for the company.

Topics: Sales, Featured, Blog Posts

Software as a service (SaaS); what exactly is it and how will it benefit my organization?

by Jos de Laat

DL Associates

Jos de Laat has throughout his career used the knowledge gained from his Master’s in Business Economics and his Master’s in Information Systems and Technology to help companies define and streamline business processes and automate them using state of the art technologies. With his extensive experience in finance, operations, sales, service and consulting he enjoys working with entrepreneurs and executive to focus on core business issues and in a collaborative approach design creative solutions that result in significant improvements in both top and bottom line. After many years in executive position in large, small and startup organizations Mr. de Laat has started his own consulting company, DL Associates. In this role he now provides business consultancy services with a focus on business process design and automation but when clients requests helps with other business related challenges like business planning, budgeting, system selection or interim management. In previous positions Mr. de Laat had the pleasure of working in over 40 different countries and as such he is also a great resource for organizations that are operating or want to operate outside of the US.

Frequently my clients and prospects ask me this question as they don’t fully understand SaaS or how it can fit their business needs. Let’s first start with the question what constitutes Software as a Service. Instead of investing significant funds in software, hardware and the installation of the software on the new hardware, an organization can enter into a contract with a service provider and typically pay a modest fee per user per month for the usage of the software solution which you will access over the internet. The service provider will maintain the system and keep in up and running so you will not need your own IT staff to maintain this system. The SaaS movement started initially in the Customer Relationship Management space with SalesForce.com but in recent years other vendors have joined. Besides CRM solutions you can now also get your email system, document management, phone system, accounting, ERP and various other systems delivered in the SaaS model.

Topics: Sales, Technology, Management, Blog Posts, Accounting & Finance

Fire Some Of Your Customers

by Mike Romanie

FUEL Marketing and Sales

Michael is a hands-on Executive with more than 25 years experience profitably driving marketing, branding, sales, and operations for public and private companies ranging from start-ups and turn-arounds to divisions of multi-billion dollar multi-national entities. Michael’s career milestones include executive teams; raising more than $75 million from public and private sources, producing 2 IPOS (NASDAQ), being an officer of two Publicly traded companies and a divisional executive of three multi-national and two multi-billion dollar companies. Michael has managed operations with full P&L responsibility and has recruited and managed teams from start-up to more than 350 employees with national and international staff, highlights include; • At a technology products and services company reversed an operating loss and posted profits at 300% above plan within one year of accepting P&L. • Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for an imbedded microprocessor company securing 180 design-in’s with major companies including Nortel, IBM, Lucent and others. Lead the Recruitment of U.S. and Canadian Independent Sales representatives (70+), and 15 Design Support Development Partners, to rapidly gain market presence and design support. • Virtual Marketing and Sales Officer for a consumer software company: Increased revenue from $1.3MM to over $6.1M in less than 18 months. Closed key retailers including; QVC, BigLots!, Penney’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, TJX, Walgreens.com, The Shopping Channel (Canada) and others. Co-Managed multi-national Independent Rep. Firm covering accounts including; Costco, SAM’s Club, BJ’s, Target, Office Max, Office Depot, Best Buy and others. Developed Australian distributing accounting for 15% of annual revenue.

Most every business eventually has to, or should, fire some customers at some point. It’s counter intuitive to most businesses and entrepreneurs that some customers may just be customers that they cannot afford. It may be your oldest or highest volume customer, or a friend of a friend that you do business with, it doesn’t matter sometimes it just can no longer be justified or make sense.

Topics: Sales, Management, Blog Posts

Improve your sales through the use of web analytics

by Jed Jones

JCJ Interactive

Jed C. Jones, Ph. D., is the principal and founder of the interactive marketing company JCJ Interactive and the database marketing company Mind Ecology. Jed is a marketing problem solver and consultant, combining several skill sets - including online marketing, database analytics, writing and branding - to help his clients succeed. Previously, Jed led marketing efforts for numerous Fortune 50, midsize and small companies, including three years in enterprise products marketing for Dell, Inc. in Japan. He is fluent in written and spoken Japanese and has a working knowledge of six other languages. Jed holds degrees in Japanese (B.A.), business (M.B.A.) and organizational systems inquiry (Ph.D.).

If your business is like most, some percentage of your monthly revenues depend directly or indirectly upon visits to your website. Of course, if your business relies primarily on e-commerce to make sales, that percentage may be 90% or even 100%. But even if you do not directly sell your products and services online, you likely rely upon your website as a catalyst for at least some of your sales revenue.

Topics: Sales, Featured, Blog Posts

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