Legal Requirements For Internet Marketing

What is required to do business on-line? How complex is it to start and run an Internet business opportunity?

Unfortunately, the answer is that it depends. An on-line retail business can have complicated legal requirements associated with it like licensing, sales tax collection and reporting regulations.

On the other hand an Internet marketing business can be a very simple and direct path to follow to own a web based entrepreneurial activity.

For the purposes of this article, let’s examine the world of affiliate marketing since it can produce an income stream with minimal up front costs and very little regulation.

Representing the products of others requires no stock, no shipping, no sales tax issues and no reporting requirements.

Products are offered and sold through independent entities like Click Bank where any affiliate marketer can register, pick products to market and collect commissions.

Under such circumstances, the producer is responsible for product shipping and the Click Bank like operation processes the sale for the customer as well as sends out the commission to the marketer along with the profit to the producer.

The Click Banks keep all of the necessary records of the transactions, issue the checks or wires and provide the year end reporting for tax purposes. In other words, much of the busy work required of any small business person is supplied basically free of charge to the marketer. Hard to beat that kind of deal.

At the end of the day, there is not much required of the business person who operates as the affiliate marketer. However, there is some wisdom in doing the following.

To be in business, be a business. Form an entity of some type. You can choose to be a Sole Proprietor or even a Corporation. The details of such choices are not to be addressed here but it is easy enough to research the pros and cons of each as well as get advice from professionals like a CPA.

Entity formation has a lot to do with paying state and federal income taxes which, as we all know, are legally unavoidable. When registering with the Click Bank type operations a marketer is required to supply either their social security number or the tax ID number of their company. There is no escaping the long arm of the tax man since income will be reported for you.

Beyond that there is little else the law requires other than the possibility of a business license that your local government might want. That can easily be checked out by a call to your local Chamber of Commerce.

Thus affiliate marketing can get you into business for very little up front expense and can begin generating income almost immediately. More significantly, as you become a better marketer and expand the number of products you represent, that income stream can grow exponentially.

Because the trend in business start ups is increasingly toward doing business on-line, it would seem that the smart and easy way to launch would be with affiliate marketing. It represents the classic low risk, high reward business model that most every business person seeks.

Beyond that, it is the kind of business that can be started in one’s spare time so that current income sources can remain undisturbed, at least in the short run. Should the affiliate marketing business grow to the point of providing a sustainable income, it can than become a full time focus.

With little legal red tape to deal with and not much investment required, affiliate marketing provides the first and arguably the most important step into the world of doing business on the Internet. The link below is provided to showcase one such first step opportunity. You are invited to take the time to review the world of being an affiliate marketer.

After all, it might just be a glimpse into the future of your own on-line business.

The Benefits of Advertising – Business Internet Marketing

Marketing online has become a very profitable way of marketing products and services of the company. Online advertising is one method of advertising that uses the Internet to deliver the marketing message that can attract customers. World Wide Web is the main medium that can be used as part of online advertising to attract customers and spread the name of the company. There are also several examples of online advertising such as email marketing, banner ads or contextual ads on various search engines.

The benefits of advertising business internet marketing are:

1. Ad beneficial for sellers and buyers. This is mutually beneficial. Sellers use advertising to promote products on the internet by providing an explanation of the details of products both in price, usability, and benefits of these products. Buyers who come to the site, they know about the various products from these ads and can choose according to their wishes.
2. Before the Internet, advertising is limited to newspapers, television and so on. Along with the development of the Internet, we can use a variety of ways to advertise our businesses either through email or posting through various websites. Through advertising on the internet allows you to expand the business globally, not limited to time and place.
3. Internet is becoming increasingly popular in line with the number of people who use these systems and tools. Almost all people use online facilities to perform the work as they use email to send and receive the official letter to the company or using social media such as twitter, Facebook, and others. By using advertising on the internet the more people will see and some of them will make a purchase.
4. Advertise your business with the internet; you will be able to reach very specific target audience through this online facility. This is often referred to as SEO Optimize system where you use specific keywords for specific markets. There is also the term PPC or pay per click where you need to pay for keywords that you are advertising on the internet.
5. Online ads can reach every person in the whole world in a small time period. Some tools or software is provided either free or paid; where you can choose which best suit your business. On average a good website can be optimized in a few months and with time running it will be increasing visitors and buyers so that we get a return on investment.
6. Cheap online advertising as a source of advertising would cost so much while placing an ad in the newspaper or television will be more expensive than online advertising. You can also get a clear picture of how much money he would spend and how much profit from your investment.

If you have not done in the advertising business internet marketing, it is good you start to learn the details and start running. This not only shortens your time in business, but you can increase your profits away from what you get. Of course, learning from the right sources and correct.

Which Is More Cost-Effective, Cabs or Car Rentals?

Rent it or cab it?

People like the freedom of having their own vehicle to drive about in, at home or when they travel, and the tendency is to book a rental car when you are away. But freedom comes with a price and it depends where your travel destination is as to whether you’re best to rent a car or take a taxi.

Cheap ground transportation depends upon location, accessibility and extraneous expense factors, like gasoline costs and parking fees. Add to that the potential complexity of finding your way around a strange city, especially a large one, and you might change your mind about what freedom means.

A trip to, for example, New York City or Montreal, two North American cities with decent public transit systems, plenty of cabs, walkable areas in their cores, and very high parking fees, and you’ll realize that a taxi will almost inevitably surface as the cheapest mode of getting around.

But what if you want a day trip to the Laurentian Mountains or the antiques stores of Hudson? That’s the day to rent a car, or to find out if there is a luxury coach service to those destinations that returns the same day.

Car rentals are convenient, to be sure, but the costs add up quickly (don’t forget insurance and occasional peak-season added fees), unless your airline points cover all or most of the cost; even then, in large cities gasoline and parking is very costly, and that is not usually included in credit card or airline rewards perquisites.

When does a rental car make sense? If you live in North America (and can’t drive across the Atlantic Ocean!) and are vacationing in Italy, for example, landing in Rome and taking a motorcar tour of Tuscany and other regions from there, your only other viable option is the train. Like anywhere else, gasoline in Europe is expensive, but you can’t take a full driving holiday in a taxi. But don’t forget, there are guided tours and some taxi drivers will gladly spend a day with you, exploring San Gimignano; they are often the best tour guides, full of information about their homeland. And driving in other countries can be a harrowing experience, especially if it involves driving on the opposite side of the road than you are accustomed to!

Plan your itinerary, do an accurate cost comparison and decide whether a taxi or car rental, or combination of the two, is the cheapest way to get around when you reach your destination. And don’t forget to ensure that your driver’s license is current, and if you need to, get an international license before you set off for your trip. Happy motoring!

Choosing an Online Payday Lender

What is Payday Loan?

A payday loan is quick monetary assistance in the form of a loan to be repaid on your next pay date. Online payday loans are the easiest method to obtain necessary cash quickly when you find yourself between paychecks.

Choosing an Online Payday Lender?

There are some crucial steps when choosing your online payday lender. When applying for a payday loan or cash advance, go for only one at a time. Let’s look at other necessary points to consider before you start to fill an application on the internet.

1. Take into consideration how professional the lender’s site is. You don’t want it to be badly organized.

2. Pay attention to how the site presents information. Clarity, relevance and usefulness are important indicators of quality.

3. A good site will have key questions answered in a payday loan FAQ section.

4. If there are expected to pay any fees up-front before your application is processed, that’s a red light.

5. Check to see if it has a clear Security and Privacy Policy that you can read.

6. Some payday lenders may promise a quick or even an instant approval with little requirements from you. Beware of them!

7. WARNING! – Don’t use payday lenders who do not have a valid SSL certificate. You risk your personal and financial information being exposed to unwanted parties.

8. The site must have an easy way to contact the lender in case there are any problems. It should have an email address and a form on a “Contact US” page

Fastest Ways to Make $10 Online

Who wouldn’t want to know the fastest ways to make $10 online? It is of great interest to people because making a quick buck is on top of everyone’s mind. Money is not everything but for almost everything you need money.

We hear about many internet scams doing their rounds and may be vary of being part of such illegal activities. When people think about making quick money, the shadow of these scams keep them from taking any action on ways and means of making it a reality.

Is it possible to make money legitimately on the internet?

Yes, it is absolutely possible. Not only that it is a possibility, many people around you are already doing it.

Is there any truth in claims such as the fastest ways to make $10 online?

Yes and No. there may be false claims made by fraudulent elements in the society. When you come across an advertisement saying that for a small fee they would tell you or give you a tool to make money online, it is probably a scam. Those people may be making money out of the fee you are paying and not from any other means they claim to teach you. But the fastest ways to make $10 online such as the ones described in this article are genuine and open to everyone.

What are the requirements to make $10 online?

Money always exchanges hands legitimately when there is an exchange of goods or services. It is true for the fastest ways to make $10 also. Many of the things you have; your talents, skill sets, ideas and many goods you have access to, may be useful to others all over the world. There are internet companies which offer you an opportunity to exchange your services for money. They require you to register with them and spell out what you can offer so that you can connect with your prospective clients.

Which are the fastest ways to make $10 online?

There are many; but a few general ones are discussed here.

  • In Just Answer and Ether your answers to specific queries will be paid.
  • Idapted is a forum for those who want to learn English language; those who are proficient in the language can offer their services for pay.
  • Telemarketing companies like Brighten Employment and data entry service companies like Axion will pay you by the hour or per assignment for your services.
  • For those with writing, artistic or computer skills can offer their services at freelancing sites such as Elance, Freelancer, Odesk, Guru, etc. You may visit their sites and register; there is an option for free registration and they take commission only when you get paid for your work.

Unless and until you make your first $10 online, it may still seem like a mirage to you. There is one golden rule you should abide by, as a first timer, though. Never trust an internet site which requires you to make an upfront payment for their services. If a company is offering a platform for you to make money by exchanging your services, it is quite legitimate for them to take a commission out of your earning. But asking you for a paid subscription is your red flag!

As you test the waters, this article about the fastest ways to make $10 online will be your guide.

How To Get Traffic As An Internet Marketer

Becoming a successful internet market is no joke. To really make more money than the guy that work his heart out from 9am-5pm takes knowing how to do the right thing. Some people say you need to work hard to make it in internet marketing. But, I would say that you not only work hard but work smart.

Every info-preneur or internet marketer undoubtedly needs to get traffic to make it in the internet business. The internet business is very competitive and if you do not know how to gain traffic to win the heart of people surfing the net, you may eventually become a failure. I have seen and heard many information marketer with right passion and excitement, become frustrated and fail in this business. You could avoid being frustrated and having the believe that internet marketing does not work or it is a big scam. You only need to become smarter to make 4 or 5 digit cash with an effective traffic strategy.

There are 3 skills that you will need to cultivate if only you want to make big money selling information over the internet.

*Perfect the bait
*Target the right people
*Delivering the right solution quickly

When you think of getting or gaining traffic for your internet marketing business, you must keep three things in mind:

1. Who is my target audience

2. What do they want?

3. How can i motivate this target audience to act now?

Let look at these closely;

Who is my target audience:If you want to market products/services or information you must first find a group of people who are hungry for such information. I call this ‘finding hungry fish’. I prefer a school of fish in ‘feeding frenzy’. If you drop your bait, that is traffic into such a school of hungry fish, they will attack your bait.
The most important part of marketing is not the traffic you could drive to the product. It is targeting your traffic to the right audience.

2. Where do you find your right audience:You have 2 choices;you can either devise traffic from someone else medium or create your own traffic strategy and get your own customers. In other words, you could pay for it as in using pay per click(PPC) or buying classified ads slot/space. But, for starters it could be expensive.

A free and no-cost method of getting traffic is to build a list. You can write a 8-15 pages report or create an e- book and give it out for free in giveaway events or forums sites. People who opt-in for your report, leave their name and email address. With this, they become willing subscribers you manage for your marketing activities.

3. How do I motivate the target audience to buy Now:As a student of marketing, i have discovered some principle that work. There are 6 of them:

a. Consensus:Give people what they want. The ‘hottest’ thing that is in demand by a large number of people. It will induce a potential buyer to say yes easily to your product.

b. Reciprocity:You should give them bonus for buying your products. Give them a free ‘gift’. It creates a subtle obligation to them to buy your product.

c. Scarcity:Attach a time limited and quantity limit to the amount you have to sell. This create urgency in the potential buyers.

d. Authority:Talk like an expert. If you are a newbie, you can have a joint venture with experts. you should note that people like to deal with experts.
e. Commitment:Whatever you promise you will do, stick to your words. Give yourself to doing what you say.

f. Liking:Make them like you and your products. appeal to their sense of liking to you and your product.

Traffic is the hub of your marketing campaign in internet marketing. Do every thing you can to get traffic. Always remember, without it you are less likely to succeed online. I wish you success and see you at the top.

What New Drivers Need to Know About Car Insurance

If you are a new driver, there are several things that you will need to know about car insurance. The most basic rule though, is that if you are going to drive a car, you must carry some form of coverage. This is just one fact you need to know pertaining to auto insurance. Listed below are several more things you will need to know as well.

Locating a Provider

First of all, in the past, you would have to sort through page upon page of ads in your local yellow pages to locate insurance providers in your area. Then, you had to phone them one by one to get quotes. However, this is no longer the case. The Internet has made locating insurance companies extremely easy.

You simply need to choose one of the many car insurance comparison websites available and type in some basic information pertaining to you and your car. The site will then match you with several providers in your area. At this point, you can choose to have these companies phone you, email you or both.

Comparing Coverage and Rates

The next thing you must know about auto insurance is how important it is to compare the coverage and rates of several providers before you choose one. Different companies offer varying rates, coverage and even discounts. With that said, you should always contact the providers in your area and find out more about them before you choose to purchase a policy.

When it comes to discounts, if you search long enough, you are sure to find some valuable ones that will help reduce your insurance premiums. Many insurance providers offer attractive discounts in an effort to gain clients. Some of the discounts that are commonly offered include new drivers, senior citizens, excellent students, safe-driving courses, air bags, safety equipment and good driving histories.

Raising Your Deductible

In addition to discounts, there are many other ways you can reduce your insurance premiums. One way is to opt for a higher deductible. This is a matter of choice, and you should think this through carefully before making a decision. While a high deductible will lower your monthly premiums, you may have to pay more should you become involved in an accident.

Liability or Full Coverage?

Another thing you need to know about car insurance is the difference between liability and full coverage. Liability is the minimum coverage that you can purchase, and it will provide compensation to other drivers in the case of accidents if you are at fault. However, it will not pay for any damage to your car or injuries to you or your passengers.

Full coverage is much more expensive than liability but there are many benefits to this type of coverage. The best thing about full coverage though, is that it not only will pay for the other driver’s damages and injuries, but it will pay for yours as well. In many cases, it will also cover such things as theft and damage to your car due to weather conditions or falling objects.

These are just a few things that new drivers need to know about car insurance. If you are a new driver, the above information can help steer you in the right direction when choosing a policy to suit your needs. However, always remember that you should compare the rates and coverage of several providers before choosing one.

The Life Cycle of Acquisition-Based Companies

A few years ago, I was discussing this phenomenon with the CEO of one of our clients. His company had grown almost entirely through acquisition, and for several years the company had experienced revenue growth rates exceeding 20%. However, the company had plateaued with respect to earnings, and looking at their overall performance it became clear to him (and to the Wall Street analysts that watched his company) that a great deal of money had been left on the table. Working with that CEO, I developed a model called the ACL Life Cycle. Understanding and using the ACL Life Cycle has proven enormously beneficial to clients depending on an M&A strategy for continued growth.

The ACL Life Cycle

The ACL Life Cycle describes the maturation process of companies who grow substantially through acquisitions and mergers. Using the ACL model, we can clearly identify the company’s current position. Knowing that position, and then looking forward at the company’s financial objectives through the lens of their business strategies, the specific actions that are needed become clear. Those actions can then be formed into an executable plan with associated performance measures, and managed through completion to bring the overall enterprise to heightened levels of financial performance. It is important for acquisition-oriented executives to understand the major phases and characteristics of the ACL Life Cycle.

Businesses who have survived one or more acquisitions and/or mergers are usually left with some degree of disintegration among their processes and systems. A company’s success in reaching the financial objectives of the merger or acquisition is directly correlated with the degree to which that disintegration has been replaced by a set of business processes and information systems that are common enough to generate enterprise-wide leverage. Implicit in that commonality is enterprise-level direction and guidance, manifested in company-wide business strategies and performance measures that align all of the combined business units. These businesses move, in this post-acquisition or post-merger environment, from an acquisition-based operating model to one characterized by shared services and a general commonization, to a stage where the enterprise “whole” really is able to become something greater than the sum of its business unit “parts”. It is more than the typical cost-reduction synergy anticipated in most of these transactions; it is a new platform for innovation, and an even higher level of innovation-based leverage.

Companies who experience substantive growth as a result of business acquisitions typically follow the ACL life cycle. ACL in this context stands for: Acquisition, Commonization, and Leverage. Many companies never leave the first stage of this maturity scale, and still more remain at the second stage. The most successful companies are usually those who recognize the importance of moving through all three stages, and consistently implement a structured process for doing so.
All companies experience pressures that push them toward decentralized operations, including idiosyncrasies of specific market niches served, the uniquenesses of isolated business processes, unusual needs of specific customer populations, and Uncategorized organizational entropy. At the same time, most of the companies that are successful in achieving the financial performance objectives established for the newly merged enterprise manage to overcome those challenges, electing to pursue the advantages of leverage, including:

  • broad synergistic brand recognition, enabling cross-selling, bundling of products and services, and improving revenue
  • interchangeability of business process resources, enabling the company to reduce its asset base
  • commonality and scalability in equipment / skills / facilities, facilitating innovation and growth into additional markets
  • higher utilization of business assets, reducing unit cost
  • lower levels of redundancy, resulting in reduced operating costs

These companies also typically find that maintaining compliance with financial reporting standards such as Sarbanes-Oxley requirements are enhanced as a result of strengthened internal controls.
Some companies make a deliberate decision to remain “holding companies”, which simply buy and sell diverse businesses that have only marginal relationships with one another. These conglomerates prefer to manage the portfolio through buying and selling components, and allowing the leadership teams at the individual companies to manage ongoing operations from strategy through execution. A few of them have been quite successful, and this article is sometimes not as directly applicable to those at a corporate level. It works very well, however, for their major divisions. Companies that benefit most from understanding the three stages of the ACL Life Cycle are those companies who have decided to focus on a single core industry – Aerospace & Defense, Automotive, Chemicals and Polymers, Textiles, Electronics, Telecommunications, Consumer Products, Medical Equipment producers, Healthcare providers, and Financial Services providers are all good candidates. 

The Acquisition Stage of the ACL Life Cycle

Companies in the Acquisition Stageof their life cycles are usually focused on revenue growth, and capturing market share. They are characterized by high levels of autonomy in management, in the reporting of site-level data to the corporate parent, and in the design of their business processes and systems. Companies who remain in this stage for long periods of time following acquisitions usually act as holding companies, with the corporation allowing individual divisions or sites to operate almost as independent companies with their own P&L, strategic plans, and market-facing branding. Often, companies in the Acquisition stage lack a common vision of the future of the overall business, and tend to operate at cross-purposes among the operating units. They sometimes even compete against one another for the same customers. They share little operating information, making it nearly impossible to coordinate and deploy “best practices”, effectively distribute work load, utilize general market intelligence, and grasp other elements that could provide corporate-wide leverage of the businesses’ assets and resources. A few industry-specific examples here should help to illustrate the situation:

Manufacturing companies in the acquisition stage are usually characterized by redundancies in raw materials, equipment, staffing, and other business resources. Because manufacturing companies are relatively material-intense, a great deal of cost can be tied up in raw materials, work-in-process, and finished goods. Since acquisition stage companies have so little visibility between business units, there is little opportunity for them to reallocate these assets in order to use them effectively. As a result, the most costly resources remain the most underutilized. In addition, acquisition-stage companies have not centralized the management of even commodity-level business processes, such as finance, human resources, and information technology. This lack of centralization leaves additional inefficiencies in place around accounting staff, employee benefits provider subscriptions, business software applications, data centers, and computing equipment. 

Telecommunications companies in the acquisition stage also have unrealized opportunities for greater leverage from their business assets, but these more often take the form of redundancies in network equipment, network coverage, retail outlets, partner agreements related to the sale of their products, and interconnection agreements with other carriers. In addition, acquisition stage telecom companies often have a substantial amount of unrealized leverage in the lack of integration among the data bases and information of their various divisions that could enable shared service operations for commodity-type processes such as billing and cross-selling of products and services. Like manufacturing companies, telecom companies in the acquisition stage also typically have unexploited opportunities around the consolidation of data centers and related equipment and staffing.

Healthcare providers in the acquisition stage usually find opportunities in different areas of their businesses, because of the differing cost structure of their operations. The bulk of their costs and their opportunities while in the acquisition stage of maturity in the ACL Life Cycle are related to employee salaries & benefits, and to medical supplies and drugs. It is less common for these businesses to be able to effectively share inventories and equipment, since the nature of their business is rooted in community health care that requires local service provision. The opportunities that do exist, which are typically not exploited well in acquisition stage health care companies, are related to centralizing commodity type business processes such as finance, human resources, and information systems, and leveraging required service and supply procurement across the enterprise. 

Financial Services providers, such as banks, brokerages, credit unions, financial planning companies and tax & audit services exhibit yet another cost profile, with the largest elements typically including personnel and occupancy costs. In these businesses, like health care provision, being where the customers are is critical. The companies’ ability to understand the changing demographics and match up their branches as well as their skills to the targeted customer base is often a differentiator between the companies that succeed and those that fail. Financial services providers who are still in the acquisition stage of maturity in the ACL Life Cycle often do not have the commonality in fundamental business processes and systems to readily reconfigure their operations to meet the changing needs of their marketplace. Their acquisitions or mergers have enabled them to grow horizontally, typically into adjacent markets. However, lacking an adequate foundation of commonality in processes and systems, there is substantial money left on the proverbial table as a result of ineffective resource deployment, and delays in the reporting of operational performance data that would enable the company to be more responsive. These companies also fail, in their acquisition stage, to take advantage of their larger purchasing power to gain leverage around purchased services spanning items as diverse as employee health care and branch-level office supplies.   

The Commonization Stage of the ACL Life Cycle

Companies in the Commonization Stage of their life cycles have usually awakened to the value of focusing on Return on Net Assets (RONA) and Return on Invested Capital (ROIC). In order to begin to capture improvements in these areas, companies in the Commonization Stage often turn to shared service models of operations for selected business processes and systems. Strategies and performance measures begin to crystallize around common themes that span multiple operating units or divisions. Among the areas of focus for a shared service model in this stage are Finance (A/R, A/P, General Ledger, and Financial Reporting), Human Resources (Payroll, Benefits, and Employment Records), and Information Technology (Computer Hardware, Network Administration, and selected Software Applications Management). Some companies in the Commonization Stage also move Procurement and other aspects of Materials Management to a shared service model, enabling the corporation to more effectively leverage its broadest possible purchasing power.

Manufacturing companies in the commonization stage of maturity typically have shared services in place for commodity types of business processes such as finance, human resources, and information systems management. As they advance through the commonization phase, some of them also begin to pull together a common platform for procurement, encompassing at least their most costly and common raw materials. A few in this stage reach a point where their data center
operations are completely centralized, and may even be outsourced to a third party like CSC. Toward the end of the commonization phase, centralization of work deployment and capacity utilization as well as process quality emerge as companies begin to deploy common processes and systems in customer requirements management, enterprise requirements planning, manufacturing execution systems, and distribution management systems. 

Telecommunications companies in the commonization stage of maturity also typically have shared services in place for commodity types of business processes such as finance, human resources, and information systems management. As they advance in maturity through this stage, telecoms also become aware of the available leverage in centralizing the management of some of their most valuable assets. However, unlike the manufacturer’s raw material focus, for telecommunications operations those elements are things like spectrum licenses, network equipment, connection agreements, partner agreements, distribution centers, and retail outlets. Centralizing the management of those assets to identify overlaps and redundancies enables telecoms to emerge from the commonization stage with much more effectively leveraged business assets, providing broader market coverage with a lower total asset base and generating much higher earnings on that consolidated foundation.

Healthcare companies in the commonization phase of maturity find substantial benefit in the commonization and centralization of their commodity type processes and systems.  This is primarily because of the impact on cash flow and earnings when the employee base is reduced through shared services, and employee benefits and supplies are both leveraged in terms of the broader purchasing power of the company following a business acquisition of significant size. However, there is also an especially rich opportunity available to healthcare companies in the commonization stage that stems form the leverage available related to insurance coverage – not for the employees directly, but covering the potential liability of the company itself. This category of cost is typically about the third largest slice of the pie, and significant reductions there can translate quickly to a meaningful earnings impact. 

 Financial services providers in the commonization stage of the ACL Life Cycle, like healthcare providers, often find substantial benefit in the commonization and centralization of their commodity type processes and systems. With roughly half of their cost of operations wrapped up in employee salaries and benefits, there is an opportunity for meaningful impact on cash flow and earnings when the employee base is reduced through shared services, and employee benefits and supplies are both leveraged in terms of the broader purchasing power of the company following a business acquisition or merger. The next significant area for financial service providers in the commonization stage is the capability for rapid reconfiguration of the business based on enterprise-wide visibility of operational data and market intelligence.

The Leverage Stage of the ACL Life Cycle

Companies in the Leverage Stage of their life cycles are usually embarked on a fierce drive toward adding real value. They are relentless in their efforts to fully utilize the assets of the entire corporation, driving out redundancy and its associated costs. They are then able to pivot on the fulcrum of those more agile processes and systems to implement innovations that foster organic growth resulting in greater market share, greater revenue, and improved earnings for their shareholders. Leverage Stage companies also establish a structured and repetitive process of assimilating new businesses, gathering and incorporating market intelligence into company-wide strategies, and innovating on the basis of these new combinations to capture additional market segments. These companies are characterized by coordination and centralization of major business functions such as the planning and allocation of R&D, production work, inventories, raw material purchases, personnel, and factories & equipment. They centrally manage a broad spectrum of common business processes and systems, including customer requirements management, product data management, enterprise requirements planning, manufacturing execution systems, and logistics management. They are constantly changing, evaluating and configuring business assets to meet future market needs, acquiring and developing new businesses, and shedding assets that no longer fit their evolving model.

Manufacturing companies in the leverage stage of maturity typically have shared services in place for most of the critical business processes of their company, having reached beyond the commodity level processes and into those which deliver the most value to their customers. Examples include sales & marketing, order entry & customer service, capacity planning and management, production scheduling and shop floor control, and distribution requirements planning. As they move through the leverage stage of the ACL Life Cycle, some of these companies leverage the commonality of their processes and systems to produce innovative new products and services, identify additional market opportunities, and develop industry-changing relationships that reach through their supply chains. 

Telecommunications companies in the leverage stage of maturity also have shared services in place for most of the critical business processes of their company, including the seamless provisioning (often called “flow-through provisioning” by industry insiders) of all telephonic services to customers stemming from a single telephone conversation responding to an individual inquiry about a service. This type of capability is only enabled when all of the information from what have historically been disparate data bases is available in an intelligent form through excellent systems integration, based on exceptional levels of commonality and strength in enterprise-wide business processes.

Healthcare companies in the leverage stage of maturity have typically discovered and implemented leverage-based improvements in their major cost structure elements as a result of enterprise-wide information visibility flowing from systems integration and centralized management of critical business processes. Health care companies generally also have uniquely challenging business conditions related to three other areas where leverage level operations can be a powerful tool. 

The first of these areas is employee safety. Most health care organizations are spending a substantial amount of money in this regard, with training and documentation of company polices and safety-related practices requiring an increasing amount of company attention. The integration of systems and commonization of processes in a leverage stage health care company offers opportunities to more quickly incorporate internal best practices, externally imposed business requirements, and feedback about lessons learned across the entire health care organization regardless of geographic dispersion. Commonization and centralized management here can result in substantially lower cost, and more importantly, substantially higher and more uniform levels of employee safety. 

The second area is bad debt. The integration of customer data, and effectively interfacing a common set of enterprise-wide processes and systems with outside service providers such health maintenance organizations and insurance carriers, substantially reduces the amount of bad debt in leverage level health care companies. 

The third area, and perhaps the area of richest opportunity, is the area of patient medical information. This area is tricky because of legislation related to patient privacy and guidelines recently established for the maintenance and communication of patient medic
al information. However, one of the fundamental challenges faced by health care providers is the absence of available medical history, particularly when a patient is admitted to an emergency room or urgent care facility. Particularly when a patient is unable to respond to questions directly due to an incapacitation illness or injury, time can literally mean life or death. Making all necessary information available to the physicians and other health care professionals involved as quickly as possible is extremely important. When critical business processes and information systems for the management of this information are brought to an effective level of commonality, the rapid dissemination of the needed information can be greatly improved, while patients’ expectations around the privacy of their information are still met. 

Financial services companies in the leverage stage of maturity, like health care companies in some ways, must balance the needs of differing local customer geographies against the advantages of centralized management in critical business processes and systems. There is real value in allowing some latitude to local branch officers and customer-facing staff such as loan officers to accommodate the unique circumstances involved in specific cases. However, these companies often find that a significant advantage of the leverage provided by enterprise-wide commonization of processes and systems is the ability to see the nuances of differing markets at a corporate level, and recognize broader trends among those different markets more quickly and clearly than they could before. This improved visibility, in turn, enables management to reconfigure their service offerings, redeploy resources such as sales dollars, and organize sales campaigns for those specific markets more quickly than they could previously.  

The best of these companies, regardless of what industry they occupy, utilize their common platform of processes, systems, and information to understand the needs of their customers in unique ways, and fluidly translate those needs into the features of their products and services. A few, at the very top of the game, come to understand the customers’ needs even before the customer recognizes them, and when necessary they reconfigure their entire business to meet those needs, gaining unassailable competitive advantage. The enterprise-wide leverage they achieved as a result of carefully and skillfully handling the post-merger or post-acquisition integration of processes, systems, and data provided the platform from which innovation launched them to new levels of performance. Examples could as easily be provided for companies in pharmaceuticals, retail operations, or the food & beverage industry. The lessons learned and the techniques vary a little, but the principles are the same.

What Should You Ask Your Contractor About Your Bathroom Remodel?

One of the best ways to make a noticeable change in your entire home is to remodel one or more of your bathrooms. Although the process may seem a little intimidating at first, you can make everything go as smoothly as possible by asking the right questions before you get started. If you want to avoid unnecessary interruptions and confusions throughout the process, you will to make a list of important points to discuss with your contractor before they even start the job. Here are a few things that you should talk about:

What Type of Remodel Do you Want?

Before you even pick up the phone to start shopping for a contractor, think about what type of remodel that you want. A simple remodel can consist of a new coat of paint and new fixtures, while a complete bathroom overhaul is much more extensive. Decide how extensive you want your remodel to be, determine your budget and then call your contractor to talk about the specifics. They will be able to help guide you through the process from there.

How Much Will It Cost?

While this is a very important aspect of conducting a remodel, you should always make sure to balance cost with the quality of your contractor. You will want to choose someone who is reliable, skilled and has extensive experience working with bathroom remodels. That being said, make sure that you talk with your chosen bathroom remodeling company about the total cost of the project. They should be able to provide you with at least a very close estimate to what the total cost should be. Some will even provide you with a firm bid after doing a full assessment. Always be up front with how much you have to spend on any given project, so that you can be on the same page from start to finish.

How Long Will It Take?

In addition to a cost estimate, you should also ask your builder for a time estimate. While a simple bathroom remodel could take just a few hours, a total overhaul could take several weeks. Because the bathroom is a very important room in your home, you will want to have a fairly clear idea of how long it will be until you can use it again. After you have an idea of how long it will take, come up with a plan to make sharing the other bathroom or bathrooms in your home much easier while you remodel.

In the end, completing a hassle free bathroom remodel relies on constant, clear and honest communication from both you and your contractor. To make sure that you are getting what you want, at a price within your budget, you must communicate these needs to them. Because your bathroom is such an important room in your home, you can’t afford to be vague, unsure or silent about any of the aspects of the remodel. If you follow these tips, and work closely with your chosen remodeling expert, you can expect a bathroom remodel that meets your expectations from start to finish.