3 essential questions when examining your competition

by Steve Rosebaugh

Steve Rosebaugh Consulting

Successful, high performing teams are guided by well-tuned and motivating managers. Now a best-selling author on Amazon.com, Steve Rosebaugh has managed and led high performance teams for more than 20 years, guiding his organizations through transition and challenge while bringing results during the most difficult of times. His experience is changing the lives and results of his clients today. An engineering graduate of the University of Illinois, Steve Rosebaugh has experience managing change in both technology and business. With a strong diversity of business experience within the complex semiconductor industry, Steve’s background includes design, product engineering, manufacturing, quality, product management, and marketing. Steve also has international experience having spent three years in a large manufacturing center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Working in both small and large companies, Steve has been successful in many functions, including: key account management, project management, conflict resolution, and operations management. He has been recognized by leading customers and has also been published both domestically and internationally in well-known industry publications. Steve lives in Austin, has been married for over 30 years, and has three grown children.

Every great business has a robust business plan, which started out as a strategic plan. And every strategic plan must include a thorough examination of the competition. Once you’ve established your target market, you should have at least begun to identify your competition. But this can often be a stumbling point.

Topics: Strategic Planning, Articles

Top 10 ways to stay prepared to borrow

by Leslie Thacker

Business Finance Solutions

Leslie Thacker is the Managing Partner of Austin Texas-based Business Finance Solutions. Leslie has over 20 years of general business experience, including ten years managing the marketing, sales, and projects for financial services including bank lending programs and electronic data interchange programs for small businesses. She has served as a consultant to several banks and a small business investment company (SBIC). Her role in Business Finance Solutions includes assisting small and mid-sized businesses obtain working capital financing, equipment leasing, and leveraging other assets for working capital. Before entering the financial industry, Leslie was the publisher of a business trade publication in Corpus Christi. She also has an extensive background in inventory control and merchandising. Leslie is passionate about helping business owners, managers, CFOs, and operations personnel obtain valuable practical business training. In March 2009 she started a highly successful Austin based Meetup group. Each month she has arranged a respected speaker to present a finance or operations topic of interest to the group. There are now approximately 180 members of the group. Leslie also volunteers time at the Texas State Small Business Development Center, assisting with educational programs and the center’s marketing program. When not helping businesses find financing and practical educational resources, Leslie spends time in her garden growing antique roses.

It is a good practice to spend some time each year to review and update your business records. When you apply for a loan you don’t want any surprises. If you make it a regular practice to review these ten parts of your business records, you will have a much easier time applying for a loan and as important, you will be practicing good business.

Topics: Business Best Practices, Strategic Planning, Articles, Accounting & Finance

When does a discounting strategy make sense?

by Sam Thacker

Business Finance Solutions

Sam Thacker is a partner in Austin Texas-based Business Finance Solutions. He has spent the last 16 years in the banking and finance industry as a commercial lending officer, banking consultant and advocate for small business financing. He has originated over $400 million in loans to hundreds of businesses in many industries. Sam has been on the financing end of numerous businesses over his banking career. Sam is a nationally respected working capital finance professional and writer. In addition to helping small companies obtain working capital financing using a variety of assets, Sam writes a widely read finance column which appears three times a week in many traditional and online news outlets throughout the United States. He writes about the challenges of small business finance, accounting, and best business practices. He has been praised by readers for his ability to explain a complicated financial concept in easy to understand terms. Sam also writes a once a month business column for the Austin Business Journal . Sam regularly teaches classes at Texas State University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on financing small businesses, financing government contracts, and other topics of interest to small businesses.

Unless your product is a “perishable” product like a hotel room, airline seat, or bananas, discounting for the purpose of generating revenue without adequate profits is a bad idea.

Topics: Sales, Management, Blog Posts, Strategic Planning

Leadership lessons from Iron Man 2

by Karen McGraw

Cognitive Technologies

Dr. Karen L. McGraw is the founder and CEO of Cognitive Technologies www.cognitive-technologies.com, a consulting firm specializing in projects, collaborative processes, and organizational effectiveness. She also leads the company’s strategic consulting, process, and performance improvement engagements for both commercial and government clients. During her 29 years of business experience, Karen has managed numerous human performance and strategic projects for non-profits, call centers, manufacturing facilities, print production, shipping warehouses, medical facilities, IT, telecommunications, financial, pharmaceutical, sales and civilian government agencies. She has conducted extensive human capital analysis research that demonstrated the positive correlation of strong human capital management with the ability to meet goals ranging from student performance, to production goals, safety goals, and revenue targets. She is a co-developer of Performance DNA, the leading methodology for analyzing human performance, the Performance DNA Desktop (software), the Human Capital Capability Scorecard and the EASE change management methodology. Karen has published 5 books and numerous articles, and has been an adjunct faculty member for the University of Texas, Arlington and the University of Maryland. Karen holds a doctorate and master’s degree from Texas Tech University, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston. She is a member of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council-Southwest (WBENC), Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), and Impact Austin, a women’s philanthropic organization. Karen is on Linked in: Karen McGraw and Twitter: @CogTechInc.

This weekend, as pure escape, I went to see Iron Man 2 at my local cinema. I really just wanted to immerse myself in some “techie” gadgets and sci-fi action. Consequently, I was surprised to realize that as the movie played out, I was focusing on leadership and the critical skills leaders need to survive turbulent times. As a woman CEO, I could empathize with Virginia “Pepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow’s character) and her unexpected rise to the CEO position. While she knew a lot about Stark Industries’ history and operations, she had little preparation for leading it. Here are three leadership lessons revealed in the movie that are important to remember during the tough times leaders face in real life.

Topics: Featured, Business Best Practices, Management, Blog Posts, Strategic Planning