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Archive | May, 2010

Vol. 65: Keep Your Prices Strong!

The Slippery Slope of Price Discounting

Look at your value proposition; some have raised prices

A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

– Oscar Wilde

These days, when you ask a business executive “what’s on your mind,” pricing is on the short list. Is this the right price for this item? Am I getting the markup I need to be profitable? How much will the price affect the buying decision? Does the economic environment require that I drop my prices? Are they too high? If I lower some, won’t I need to raise others? What if the mix changes and the higher priced items don’t sell and the lower ones do? What’s my competitor doing? Why do people shop here in the first place? Ad infinitum.

Pricing is both omnipresent and eternally vexing. It’s at the core of a profitable business, the management of the supply chain and the strength of your brand. In its most pernicious form, however, (more…)

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The Misleading Meandering of Multitasking!

Many of you have seen my earlier posts – the Stanford research or the NY Times summary about how multitasking fails to increase our productivity … the very enemy it’s sworn to eliminate.

In an HBR blog, Peter Bregman reports what he found when he did  NOT multitask for a week and discovered some lost pieces of life’s puzzle. I’m going to try it myself to see what I discover and report back to you.

What about you? Why not give it a go? It’s a slow week anyway, isn’t it?

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California still sharing space with whale pucky!

Like we need more bad news in or about California … but the Chief Executive organization’s survey of Best and Worst States for Business 2010 finds the Golden State’s golden egg is actually something else that’s been painted over … if you catch my drift. We’re not just last for 2010 – we’ve been #51 for the last 6 years in a row!

You can see here how the CEO’s grade the states in such categories as regulation, workforce quality and living environment and see the real disparity between California and say, the average state grade or #1 Texas.

We’re long overdue to weed out the private industry bashers in Sacramento and renew the powerful business community in this state – and it couldn’t start too soon!

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Let the laymen set the deal!

Once in awhile, it’s nice to see your advice echoed in the halls from someone like Warren Buffett. Since my early investment and venture capital days, I have promoted the concept of a simple “terms sheet” to set down the deal terms between the companies involved, making sure that the businessmen understand the business issues first.

Your attorneys serve an valuable role but it’s invaluable for both sides to be very clear about the business objectives (more…)

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CA seed money drying up

No surprise that California’s continuing budget problems resulted in a significant drop in funds available through the California Small Business Loan Guarantee program.

Why? Because a chunk of its trust fund was used last year to help plug the budget gap … more gamesmanship by our elected reps in Sacramento.

Oh, the horror!

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Vol. 64: Growth overwhelms Cash Flow


Rising Sales are great, right? Read this first

Resurgent Growth easily overtakes Cash Flow!

If the people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn’t seem wonderful at all.”     – Michelangelo

These days, one of the things I hear most often in my conversations with CEOs is their confidence that growing revenue and reduced expenses is all that’s needed to restore performance and financial stability. That’s the simple cure to overcome the travails of the last 18 months. “If we can just get back some of the sales we’ve lost and hold down our expenses, we’ll be profitable again and have the cash flow necessary to resume normal operations.”

Financial resources to fuel growth are the lowest in years

Unfortunately, that scenario is unlikely to unfold as scripted. As a result of depleted profits and depressed cash flow incurred over the last 18 months, the financial resources to support revenue growth are at the lowest level in years. (more…)

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Have a Truth Teller onBoard?

I’m a relentless advocate for outside board members in family businesses, in large part to divorce the value of objective business discussions from subjective family dynamics. I’ve seen a family member derail an important conversation because his baby brother … some 30 years ago … wrecked his bicycle.

Jeff Bussgang, an entrepreneur and now VC partner, provides in a recent Business Week article, a good reminder of the value of having a “Truth Teller” on your Board of Directors.

If you’re running a family business, do you have any outside board members? If so, are you glad you do? If not, why not?

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Is anyone really independent?

I wish had the time to write about all that’s on my mind about the SEC charges vs. Goldman. The crux of my most recent post was that institutional investors – not individual investors – have few excuses for making unsuccessful investment decisions except their own lack of due diligence or the fact that what they thought was a good decision … wasn’t.

I’m happy to see that Warren Buffett agrees as he told his rapt audience in his comments at Berkshire Hathaway’s recent annual shareholder’s meeting. Of one firm, ABN Amro, Mr. Buffett said: “It’s hard for me to get terribly sympathetic when a bank makes a dumb credit bet.” (more…)

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Email Overload. Really?

No news flash here … except that many of us share the frustration over the relentless flood of email that washes ashore 24/7. There is a nugget somewhere in various ideas companies are trying to dam the waters, particularly with internal email.

This Wall Street Journal article summarizes some of those ideas … one from Success Factors, (a company for which I have served as the guest speaker in several national webinars) that banned internal email for an entire week.

What are you doing to get control of this email hydra?

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