Nortel Bankruptcy Just the Tip of the 2009 Business Bankruptcy Iceberg

A Nortel Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing sent stocks into a tailspin. Bloomberg considers the Nortel news – and declining December retail sales in the US – to be signs that the recession is nowhere near the final low, but instead that economies are still sinking. With Nortel bankrupt, what 2009 business bankruptcy filings have you missed?

 

Those who thought that mining companies would be on the chopping block this year are correct. Apex Silver Mines Limited, a corporation headquartered in Denver, Colorado, also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Another Colorado firm filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection is the Shane Company, known for the slogan “now you have a friend in the diamond business.” The Denver Post reported that the filing revealed a total of 6,000 creditors and assets as well as debts in excess of $100-500 million.

 

In an interesting twist, Tronox, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 for its, specifically excluding its operations situated in the Netherlands, Germany and also Australia. It appears that the company is trying to get out from under the liabilities it incurred while it was spun off by Kerr-McGee Corporation, among them environmental remediation.

 

In plain English, Tronox cannot or will not pay for the removal of pollutants its company released into the environment and thus hopes that a Chapter 11 will accommodate its use of fiscal resources elsewhere and leave someone else paying the bill. In a bizarre interpretation of the news, a spokesman for the state opined – as reported in the Review Journal – that “the remediation will go on as it has in the past. The state will not be on the hook for any additional costs.” Who will?

 

The Denver Business Journal suggests that companies filing for Chapter 11 “die 99 percent of the time. It used to be 85, but now it’s 99.” Not far behind in the doomsday prediction department is the Plain Dealer which quotes C. Britt Beemer, who is chairman of America’s Research Group Ltd, and who believes that “you’ll see more retail bankruptcies in the first six months of next year than in the last five years combined.” He is referencing 2009.

 

It would appear that the Nortel bankruptcy filing is simply the tip of the 2009 business bankruptcy filing iceberg.

 

Sources: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601082 sid;=aSo0vp9_rZAY refer;=canada; http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=113158 p;=irol-newsArticle ID;=1244050 highlight;=; http://www.tronox.com/NewsReleaseFiles/news_20090111.htm; http://denver.bizjournals.com/denver/othercities/kansascity/stories/2008/12/29/story12.html?b=1230526800%5E1753504; http://www.lvrj.com/business/37491909.html; http://blog.cleveland.com/business/2008/12/retail_experts_predict_more_st.html

Starting Up Right: Legal Foresight for Small Business Owners

 

It is common to find huge multinationals fighting over patents and copyright infringements, often settling for millions of dollars and we go on to think as small business owners this does not apply to us. However, a closer look at what these giants are fighting about in big legal battles can usually be identified to the smallest of legal issues that were overlooked and that went along to cost them big money and embarrassment.

 

As a small business owner today, or if you plan on going into business for yourself, it may be easy to neglect legal issues because they are not enforced at inception and they may well become the proverbial snake that will mercilessly turn back to bite your heel if you don’t absolutely crush it today.

 

Taking time to learn in which you are operating in will go a long way to keep you secure and ensure that you follow the right processes in setting up and running your business. The time you put into learning the legal matters will help you navigate yourself safely in the normally confusing waters of day to day business.

 

How do you go About Learning the Legal issues that Concerns your Business?

 

There are a number of resources you can use to guide you on legal issues that might affect your business. The best approach is to engage in research using different sources, collecting, analyzing and keeping references for the best legal practices that will protect you from the start and form a base for the future.

 

Some resources will be to accessing legal information online, reading on current business practices and legal issues other firms are facing in the news, joining forums and discussion groups of small business owners.

 

Other important sources will be to attend functions and information sessions and conferences focused around legal matters and cooperation. You may well go out of your way to attend those that involve big businesses. The insights might apply to you as well and may well prepare you for expansion in the future.

 

If you have the financial resources, keeping a qualified legal advice on your payroll from the onset will enable legal knowledge to grow as your cooperation grows. You can be sure of the best legal advice for having someone work on your business full time with the aim of providing you with the best information on how you stand legally as a business.

Bright Ideas Are Worth Money: Creative and Innovative Ways to Earn Cash

CashSome of the most unlikely ideas can generate tremendous interest and earn their originators amazingly large sums of money, including an anatomically impossible drawing of a spider. In 2008, David Thorne of Adelaide, Australia, reportedly offered a drawing of a spider he had sketched as a substitute for payment of a utility bill for 233.95 dollars Australian.

The utility company refused the drawing, but the seven-legged sketch generated an extended email exchange between Thorne and the utility company. He ultimately offered the sketch on the online auction site eBay, where it fetched 18 bids from various countries worldwide and a winning offer of $10,000 U.S dollars, or 15,000 Australian dollars.**

Performance Art

The Chicago Bucket Boys are descended from a tradition of street performers dating back hundreds, if not thousands of years. The young men from the south side of Chicago create syncopated rhythms using a simple pair of drumsticks and plastic buckets. They are a frequent sight on Michigan Avenue during the summer months, and have performed during halftime at Chicago Bulls games.

Esmee Denters, a young woman from Oosterbeck in the Netherlands, has taken a more high tech approach, uploading videos of herself singing to the popular user driven channel YouTube. She has generated interest from promoters with major music labels. Fluent in English and Dutch, she has developed a fan base in Europe and the United States.

A Better Mousetrap

Until personal computers made typewriters nearly obsolete, the invention of Bette Nesmith Graham, Liquid Paper, originally called “Mistake Out,” was the savior of typists everywhere. The mother of Michael Nesmith, a member of the 1960’s pop group The Monkees, Bette Nesmith Graham began manufacturing the formula in her kitchen blender. Shortly before her death in 1980, she sold the company to Gillette for 47.5 million dollars.

Multiple inventor Joy Mangano’s inventions focus on household challenges such as hangers that preserve space in crowded closets or a mop that eliminates the need to wring out dirty water from a mop head with their hands. She began her company in 1991 with her first invention, the “Miracle Mop,” that allowed users to wring out the mop head without getting their hands wet. Since then, she has become a fixture on Home Shopping Network, promoting products like her popular “Huggable Hangers.”

Playing Doctor on TV

In a commercial for Vicks 44 cough syrup that aired during the 1980s, soap opera actor Peter Bergman spoke the now famous line “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.” Since that time, real doctors have taken positions as varied as medical correspondent for television news stations, to product endorsements for infomercials. Dr. Drew Pinsky, known as “Dr. Drew” and Dr. Mehmet Oz, known as “Dr. Oz” have each become bona fide television personalities with nationwide recognition.

Other doctors, while less famous, have also established careers on television. Dr. Stephanie Clements began her career in journalism and earned a medical degree in podiatry. She became the medical correspondent for KUSA, an NBC affiliate in Denver, Colorado and continued her medical practice. Dr. Dave David gave up a medical practice in the 1990s to become a product endorser for medical and fitness infomercials.

Put It In Writing

Web pages and weblogs, or blogs, have replaced newspapers and books for a large percentage of the reading public. As a result, bloggers such as Matt Drudge of the conservative “Drudge Report” and Markos Alberto Moulitsas Zuniga, founder of the left-leaning “Daily Kos” have become influential figures on the blogosphere, or the Internet information arena. Commercial services such as CreativeWeblogging and and Weblogs, Inc. offer would-be bloggers a turnkey platform and paid compensation for their prose.

The Worth of a Picture

Artist J.S.G. (“Just Some Guy”) Boggs has traveled around the world, using hand-drawn currency in place of actual legal tender. He is not a counterfeiter; his works of art recreate the look of money only on one side. The back contains his thumbprint and signature. In the Internet age, Boggs has turned from hand-drawing currency to computer generated works of art.

Both his hand drawn bills and his computer currency are worth much more than face value to collectors, who pay Boggs for receipts allowing them to trace the works of art. The collectors in turn contact the recipients of the “Boggs bills” with lucrative offers. Once the art has changed hands from its original recipient to the collector, Boggs considers his “performance art” to be complete. His art is on display in museums around the world.

** No money had actually changed hands concerning the spider drawing. Patrick Munoz, the winning bidder, reportedly refused to pay the winning bid. The spider artist had reportedly not paid the original utility bill as of that date, either. An extensive search yielded no further updates.

Sources

  • Ninemsn.com.au — Man Tries to Pay Bill With Spider Drawing
  • Telegraph.co.uk — Man Tries to Pay Overdue Bill With Spider Drawing
  • Ninemsn.com.au — Spider Minus Leg Sells for Thousands
  • News Ninemsn.com.au — “Spider Man” Refuses to Pay for Drawing
  • Bulls.com — Chicago Bulls Bucket Boys
  • Reuters.com — You Tube Stars Don’t Always Welcome Record Deals
  • YouTube — Esmee Denters’ Official Channel
  • JobTips.org — Moms as Successful Home-Based Entrepreneurs
  • Liquid Paper — About Us
  • CBS News — Mother of the Miracle Mop
  • HSN.com — Joy Mangano for the Home
  • IMDB — Peter Bergman
  • Dr. Drew Pinsky — Home
  • Mehmet Oz, M.D. — Home
  • CareerLab.com — Getting a New Gig
  • The New York Review of Books — The Library in the New Age
  • From Literacy to Electracy — Writing, Reading, and Learning in the Late Age of Print
  • Beat-Tuition.com — Make Money In College –33 Ideas and More
  • The Drudge Report — Home
  • NNDB — Matt Drudge
  • Daily Kos — Home
  • Daily Kos — FAQ
  • Creative Webblogging — Write for Us
  • Weblogs, Inc. — Home
  • Economic Expert — J.S.G. Boggs
  • Young Money.com — J.S.G. Boggs — The Value of Money
  • The Art Institute of Chicago — Search Result — J.S.G. Boggs

Free Sample Employee Evaluation Form: A Performance Evaluation Checklist for Entrepreneurs

ChecklistEmployees need to know how they are doing, and performance evaluations are an excellent way to provide the necessary feedback. Yet an employee evaluation isn’t a one-time or yearly process either; it begins the second an employee is hired and continues throughout their career with the organization.

What follows is a free sample evaluation form for entrepreneurs to use and cater to their specific human resource needs, so as to provide their staff with adequate feedback and review on a regular, measured basis.

Free Sample Performance Evaluation – Data Section

Start the evaluation form with the kind of data that can be filled in before the actual job evaluation takes place, such as:

  • Employee name, number (if applicable), job title, supervisor and department;
  • Hiring or start date and the time period for which the employee evaluation is being done;
  • Current salary, along with the last salary increase date;
  • Why the employee is receiving a performance evaluation (such as it was scheduled, for a promotion or to review a potential salary increase); and
  • The date of the employee’s last performance evaluation, as well as the date the current evaluation is being performed.

Free Sample Performance Evaluation – Technical Skills Section

The technical skills section of an employee evaluation is where the reviewer can comment upon the staff member’s:

  • Knowledge of the job, including the specific skills and information requirements needed;
  • Work quality, such as their accuracy, thoughtfulness, thoroughness, concision, ability to complete projects as requested and consistency;
  • Promptness in getting the work required finished on schedule;
  • Understanding of the job and all it entails, such as the employee’s ability to learn new skills and put them into practice and follow company rules and/or procedures; and
  • Organizational skills, such as their ability to juggle projects and time commitments, and how well they prioritize crucial job-related tasks.

Free Sample Performance Evaluation – Interpersonal Skills Section

Every job requires some level of interpersonal skills, whether or not the staff member has any contact with the public. With this in mind, some of the performance review talking points could include:

  • How well or often does the employee take the initiative to get thing done, and are they able to work without supervision most of the time?
  • Is the employee respected by his or her peers, subordinates, superiors and/or clients? Do they work well with others?
  • Does the employee demonstrate concern for the client’s needs consistently and regularly?
  • What kind of attitude does the staff member bring to the workplace?

Free Sample Performance Evaluation – Personal Skills Section

The smallest of the sections in a performance review, the personal skills category merely explains whether or not the employee is punctual, has good attendance, and is attentive to customer relations no matter what their position with the company.

Free Sample Performance Evaluation – Written Evaluation Section

The written evaluation is where the reviewer can write longer, more detailed comments about the employee’s job performance, such as any general comments or whether or not the staff member met the goals and recommendations from the previous performance review.

Free Sample Performance Evaluation – Recommendation Section

This is the portion of the employee evaluation form where the reviewer or human resources professional can give a brief outline of what is to happen based on the performance review. Information covered could include:

  • Whether or not the employee’s position will remain the same, receive a promotion, be transferred or changed in any other way;
  • What, if any, salary changes or training programs are being recommended; and
  • What date the performance review was shared with the employee.

Finish the performance evaluation with the reviewers signature, the employee’s signature, and the date, along with a disclaimer such as, “I have read this employee evaluation and have shared my thoughts and comments with the reviewer. My signature does not constitute agreement, but rather an understanding of the information presented within.”

Why Buying a Franchise Might Be Right for You: For Some Aspiring Entrepreneurs Franchising Could Be the Way to Go

LogoIf you’re looking to start your own business but are worried about taking the plunge you might want to consider investing in a franchise. Starting a small business can be full of risk. You have to develop a concept and put your own money and maybe somebody else’s on the line for an unproven concept. This can take a lot of guts to do. And if you lack a good business education and the experience necessary then it might not be a good risk for you to take.

A Franchise Is an Investment

There is an alternative though. Buying a franchise can help you overcome some of the weaknesses that are inherent with small business. And if you pick the right type of franchise then you might find a good deal of support for your investment. Not all franchises are the same of course, some are better than others and they operate in many different industries. Restaurants are the single most popular field for franchised businesses. But there are many others for you to choose from. The first thing you have to ask yourself is what is right for you.

Your Franchise Is a Long Term Commitment

Buying a franchise is a long term commitment. You be required to sign a contract that usually will last five years or longer. You’ll spend thousands of dollars on your franchise and possibly undergo numerous training sessions. You need to make sure that the franchise you choose is what you will be happy doing. There are all sorts of franchises out there if you take the time to look. But just as you should do with anything else in business before you buy that franchise you need to educate yourself.

Educate Yourself about Franchises

Your education needs to include all that you can find out about the industry you are interested in and the franchise company you are considering. The fees that they charge need to be considered. What is the franchise fee and do they charge any kind of regular royalties? What training do they provide to you both upfront and on an ongoing basis. How many other stores are in your area? Does your franchise operate territories and can you buy control of more than one? When you consider buying a franchise you have to consider a lot of questions. And you need to do it carefully.

Benefits of Owning a Franchise

A franchise does come with some definite benefits though. Many franchises are proven business concepts with hundreds or even thousands of locations. Many have national advertising campaigns that they run. And a list of approved vendors the length of your arm that you can buy from. All you have to do is provide the money to get your location up and running and then go to work. How successful it becomes is not entirely up to you because of the support they are providing but how well your location runs is in your hands. Franchises are not for everyone but if you have the money and feel you need the support of a proven business concept it might be right for you.

Basics of Setting Up a Small Project Management Business

ManagementWhen a business sells a service that a client will only buy once or thrice in a lifetime, then it is engaged in a project management business. It could appear to be a one-man or one-woman team such as a wild animal or insect exterminator or a team of several teams consisting of five thousand workers drilling a highway tunnel across the sea.

The common notion of project management is that it involves a Gantt chart and a well-documented plan of tasks, schedules and personnel assignment. Another typical view is that project management is for big business which involves a highly paid project manager with project management certification.

Well, this is not the case.

How Small Project Management Businesses Usually Start and Grow

When an aspiring entrepreneur is good at something and sells such expertise as a service or has inherited a service business from his or her parents, then that would technically be the start of a project management business.

The typical small business owner selling services has a gut feel of the service process being sold. He or she would rarely document each step in the process and would usually be proud and call such attitude as ‘protecting a trade secret.’

However, when the decision to expand and sell franchises is reached, the small business owner is now challenged to establish a standard way of doing things to keep the business name’s integrity and ensure consistent profitability.

The business owner will have to hire a franchising expert to create an operations manual; establish standards in procedures to maintain and sustain quality in all franchises; or even apply for intellectual property rights on the name, look and feel, and unique procedures of the business.

For instance, the operations manual will contain information such as the process steps in safely catching a rattle snake, how much to charge for the service, what equipment to use, where to release the reptile, what will the business owner do when someone has been bitten and so forth.

Typical Advantage of Setting Up a Project Management Business

The typical advantage of setting up a small project management business is that it usually requires small or no capital at all. What is usually invested is the time and effort of the business owner who is good at what he or she does.

But the question is, can he or she be even better to make consistent profits and build a reputation for quality service? If the answer is yes, then how will the business owner proceed from where he or she is good at?

The Right Footing: Start the Expertise Multiplier

Before even making a decision to write a business plan, the aspiring small project management business owner should attempt to document the steps that he or she does best. For this, it would be advantageous to look at this free manual.

Documenting the process steps can result in the following expertise multiplier benefits:

  • Fine tune the process further for greater efficiencies
  • Better organization
  • Better insight on how to breakdown tasks so the simple ones can be assigned to other people
  • When the owner gets sick, the substitute can look at the process steps for consistent quality
  • Training reference for new workers in cases of expanded business
  • Better division of labor and delegation

Using Capital: Manage Resources First in the Mind

After documenting most of the necessary service processes, the business owner should then list all of the resources required to execute each service, how much they cost, how many sales would it take to recover such costs, what are the seasonal behaviors of the business and how many customers can the business serve with such resources.

Documenting the above information or more enables the business owner to commit mistakes in his or her head without actually spending cash yet for such mistakes.

Dry Run: Estimate Capacities and Demand

As long as the aspiring business owner can do the service business part-time in addition to a full-time job, then estimating demand for the service is not necessary. However, if demand picks up, the small project management business owner should know his or her capacities.

The first technique is to go through the service process steps and asking someone to time the actions with a stopwatch every step of the process. This is an operations management technique called the time-and-motion. Thus, if a service can be completed in x time which includes travel time to-and-fro, then 8 hours divided by x is the capacity y number of clients in a given day.

The next technique is to simulate the maximum number of estimated services that the business owner can do for himself or herself in a day or week. This is crucial as fatigue can affect service quality. Moreover, a good marketing strategy can be formulated that is in-line with realistic capacities.

Getting Down to Business: Write the Business Plan

After the dry run, the aspiring business owner should now write the business plan. Writing the business plan provides the business aspect to the technical aspect of the small project management business. In addition to that, the business plan is very useful in raising capital either through equity loans from the bank, through venture capitalists and friends, or through government grants.

Go, Go, Go: Register the Business

When the business plan is complete, the aspiring small project management business owner should now register the business.

What You Need to Become an Entrepreneur?

EntrepreunerWhen I speak to my audience, I love to ask warm-up questions at the beginning. If I ask them whether they know what they need to become an entrepreneur, most of them answer in one voice – “Capital”, “Capital”, “Capital”. True, capital is one of the major requirements to start a startup. And most of them consider the capital in terms of financial aspect only. Capital is more than just money and there are more other forms of capitals equally or even more important than money to become an entrepreneur. Besides capital, you need many other fundamental things. In one of my articles, I discussed about the Integrity as the ultimate requirement for excellence in business and on Innovation as the mantra for survival in business. Today I will discuss on one of such essentials, the capital and their other forms:

Emotional Capital
I have not seen coaches on Entrepreneurship speak on this capital, the emotional capital. This is your aspiration, passion and perseverance that always keeps you thriving to excel and drives to become successful entrepreneur. If you can not keep your emotional capital leveled high, in many cases the start-up entrepreneurs tend to pull back themselves so often even at small waves. In another way, emotional capital is an entrepreneurial instinct, which is a well-rooted desire to have your own business. You must have that instinct, loyalty and dedication to be fully directed towards your goal. The indulgence towards your goal is likely if you love your business.

Knowledge Capital
Academic certificates may prove your academic intelligence, but Knowledge capital means more than scholastic achievement. I like it to call it “entrepreneurial brains.” To become a successful entrepreneur, you must have knowledge, appropriate experience and skills about the business you plan to start before you start it. The knowledge capital is made up of the knowledge, experience and skills in you and your startup team. Team members with distinguishable knowledge capital in different business domains may have synergistic power to push the startup ahead. They can outperform if together than each of them ever could do individually.

Networking Capital

“It’s not only what you know, it’s who you know”.

Professional networking, business networking, social networking, community networking, global networking and all sort of contacts fall upon the networking capital that help you to promote, sell and reach to your real business market. Each of your startup team members should use these contacts to promote business.

People Capital
Select right people. You will be successful only if you have right people around you. People capital may mean the skills to do the things, experience doing the things before, specific trainings on the business you are doing, knowledge acquired over the time, that you should be able to use from the very first day of your venture. You are not supposed to develop each of these skills from scratch by yourself,

Cultural capital
There is a big challenge today knowing multi-culture business norms, when we are talking about competing in the the same playing field. You and your team must posses knowledge about cultural ethics, do and don’t, quality standards, people preferences and aspirations of the specific culture. You should be well aware about different geography, ethic groups, communities, country norms and based on that your actual target market. You may read my one of previous blog posts on challenges on going global.

The Courage to Lead: How to Develop Your Leadership Confidence

leadershipEveryone admires courageous leaders. But there are different kinds of leadership. To become President of a country or a Chief Executive takes courage because you are in a win-lose competition with other candidates. You put your neck on the line in a very public way. When you campaign for election, you face aggressive opposition and intense scrutiny of your life and track record. It also takes courage to champion unpopular ideas in the face of severe opposition.

Courage is required for any competition. When you apply for a job, you are in a public race that only one person can win. You need courage to enter the fray and to face your supporters if you lose.

What about the courage of Martin Luther King? He was assassinated despite his courage and attacked in a number of other ways. To stand up for your beliefs and values in front of an angry mob takes a lot of courage. But this situation is different. King wasn’t competing with other candidates for election to a position. He was simply challenging the status quo to promote a better way of living.

Not many people have this much courage. It is because it is so rare that we admire people who have it. Courageous leaders in business, politics or war are naturally seen as heroes.

Developing Your Leadership Courage

The key to developing your courage to lead is to start small. It takes much less courage to compete for a first line supervisory position than it does to be President of your country. Similarly, you don’t need to lead civil rights marches like Martin Luther King to challenge the status quo. Whatever job you do, you will have ideas on how it could be done better. Do you have the courage to make suggestions for improvement to your boss? If you do, then you have sufficient courage to show some small scale leadership in your own local environment. The amount of courage you need to question existing practices also depends on the way you express your challenge. If you speak aggressively in a meeting with your boss and colleagues, you need to be very courageous. However, if you have a quiet word with your boss alone, it is not so risky. Even here, you could be confrontational or you could take a low-key approach and simply ask your boss what he or she thinks about a certain idea you have. If your tone of voice is one of asking for advice rather than aggressively saying the boss is wrong, then you don’t need to be quite so courageous.

Leadership Requires Challenging the Status Quo

All leaders have a better idea. They want to change the world. It takes leadership confidence to stick your neck out. To be a leader, you need to build your confidence to question the way things are done. The easiest way to start is to make quiet, non-confrontational suggestions and see how it goes. You need to see these actions as showing leadership, even if they are on a very small scale. Once you have gained some confidence on small issues, try scaling up to larger matters. If you think a particular stand you want to take is high risk, try it out on a friendly audience before you go to your boss or other prominent stakeholders. With subtle influencing skills, built mainly on using clever questions, you might even get your target audience to think it was their idea.

Like Martin Luther King, you can show leadership every day in all sorts of ways by suggesting a better way or even just by setting a good example. You don’t need to be in charge of the people you are trying to lead to show this sort of leadership. Remember, Martin Luther King showed leadership to the U.S. Supreme Court when his demonstrations influenced them to outlaw segregation on buses, and they did not report to him.

Large scale courage is heroic, but it isn’t necessary for everyday acts of leadership.

The Contents of a Winning Proposal: Five Steps to Successful Proposal Development

win proposalsA proposal is the response by a business to an opportunity, and is a way for a business to showcase their products, services, skills and talents to prospective clients. Creating a winning proposal is as easy as following these five simple steps.

  1. Define The Project – The first question to be answered when responding to a solicitation is, “What is our objective for this project?” It is important to have a clear understanding of the problem to be solved, and to have a firm idea about what your company goal is in responding to this solicitation. If the project statement in the solicitation is not clear, contact the project administrator or other point of contact as specified in the solicitation. One of the factors that the review team will use when considering your proposal is how well your plan responds to their needs.
  2. Assemble a Stellar Team – A project team will consist of a program manager, who will be the point of contact with the contracting organization, and an array of people with specialized skills that can accomplish the goals of your project. Your project team should show your expertise in accomplishing all facets of the project. If you do not have employees to fill all niches, consider hiring consultants or contractors to round out your team. For example, if you are part of a product design firm and the project involves developing a product for high-volume manufacturing, be sure that you have an expert on design for manufacturability and partners in the manufacturing sector.
  3. Draft a Work Plan – In this part of the proposal, you should detail your plan of action for the project. Break the project down into relevant and workable chunks. Describe your approach for each task, and identify milestones and deliverables for each section of the work plan. Include a schedule or Gantt-style chart to illustrate the timing of and the relationships between your tasks.
  4. Review Past Performance – The majority of solicitations will require some examples of similar projects to illustrate your past performance in the industry. Start by assembling projects with direct relevance to the solicitation. Refer to the solicitation for specific requirements, but it is generally useful to have between 3 and 5 examples of past performance. If you do not have that many directly relevant projects in your portfolio, add projects that involved specific skill sets that will be applicable to the solicitation, but may be outside of the specific industry.
  5. Get an Independent Review – When you spend a lot of time researching and writing a proposal, the familiarity of the work can sometimes allow errors to creep into the work. A review of the proposal by a colleague can uncover inconsistencies in the content, breaks in flow, and simple textual errors. A colleague can act as a devil’s advocate to ensure that the arguments you create in support of your proposed work are strong and backed up with sufficient evidence.

Microsoft’s Silverlight Technology: Developing Rich Internet Applications for Any Browser on PC or Mac

rich internet appsWebsites are not the only thing developed for the Internet. Many applications are developed using web tools and technologies. Even with all the advances in web technologies, there is still often a large gap in user experience. The ability to design a rich user interface using web technologies is slowly happening with technologies like AJAX. Microsoft, never to be left out of any technology space for long, has introduced their solution to developing rich Internet applications: it’s called Silverlight.

What is Silverlight?

Silverlight is a lightweight cross-browser web presentation technology that can run on both Windows and Mac OS platforms.

It is also used to present rich media and audio to web pages.

Silverlight Technologies

The foundation of the Silverlight presentation technology is XAML – eXensible Application Markup Language. XAML is the presentation technology used in Microsoft’s Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) – which is part of the .Net Framework 3.0.

Silverlight is essentially a browser plug-in that is installed the first time a user hits the site. It has a small footprint (about 2 MB). This free plug-in is what reads the XAML and creates the visual presentation in the browser. The plug-in exposes the underlying XAML page to Javascript developers (using the DOM – document object model – model). Developers can then interact with the XAML content by writing event handlers or changing its contents.

The 2 main components of the Silverlight architecture include:

  • The Core Presentation Framework are the components and services required to build the presentation interface layer of the application, including XAML and DOM, digital assets management, etc.
  • The .Net Framework for Silverlight is a subset of the .Net Framework components and libraries that can be used to develop the applications.

Developers and designers use Microsoft Visual Studio and Microsoft Expressions Blend to code and design Silverlight applications. Developers can code Silverlight applications using languages they are already well familiar with (Visual Basic and C#).

Some of the additional programming features include File Management, Isolated Storage, Asynchronous programming, POX services (simple XML web services) and XML libraries.

Uses for Silverlight

Some of the best uses for Silverlight include the following:

  • Rich media
  • “Islands” of rich, interactive content on a web page
  • Web visualization elements – like navigation, advertising, data display

There are currently 2 versions of Silverlight available. Version 1.0 is the first version that is out as a Release Candidate (which means it’s pretty much the final version), and Version 1.1 which is currently in Alpha state. Only version 1.1 has the ability to develop against the .Net framework API.

There’s an entire online community available to show you all the ins and outs of developing applications using Silverlight, including creating them and inserting them into existing .net applications.

There are also a number of MSDN technical articles related to developing with Silverlight. Start with the Getting Started with Silverlight and go from there. This type of technology creates the new generation of rich internet applications that are required for the Web 2.0 community. If you aren’t learning how to develop in technologies like Silverlight and AJAX, then you aren’t keeping with the Joneses