How to Select the Best Business Advisers

Hiring outside advisers and utilizing members of the entrepreneurial infrastructure are key strategies for operating a successful venture. Too many times such personnel are chosen because they are friends or relatives of the owner. This is one of the biggest mistakes an entrepreneur can make. Those selected should balance out the management team, bringing in expertise that the owner lacks and the business strongly needs.

Entrepreneurs give equally little thought to selecting members of the infrastructure, lawyers, accountants, and other management professionals. Again, they usually choose people they know, regardless of their expertise and reputation. Because most start-up ventures cannot afford to take on additional employees to handle various management functions, infrastructure contacts become especially critical. They must be seasoned professionals, chosen solely on the basis of their expertise. This is the only way to build a strong management team besides hiring one. On an informal level, friends, associates, suppliers, and vendors can be good sources of outside advice.


Establishing a board of directors and an outside board or council is one of the best investments entrepreneurs can make to strengthen the stability and growth potential of their ventures. An outside board gives a fresh perspective and objective feedback about the operation and its strategic direction. Unfortunately, few founders seek enough of such advice. Often they neglect to establish a board of directors or advisory council because they think no one would want to serve on a board or that setting one up is too much work.


Smart Strategies for Using the Infrastructure and Business Professionals


1 – Find a lawyer experienced in small business and establish a working relationship before you ever need to hire counsel.


2 – To save on legal fees, complete as much up-front work and information gathering as possible before meeting with your attorney.


3 – Never talk to another party’s attorney without having your own attorney present.


4 – To reduce legal costs, use standardized forms of conducting routine business, but always have your attorney review them before implementation.


5 – To avoid surprises with legal bills, estimate the number of billable hours for your legal project and then negotiate a cap or ceiling on the total fee.


6 – Select an accountant who is also a good business adviser, one who is familiar with your industry, knowledgeable about tax planning, and committed to building and managing a sound cash flow.


7 – If you are considering raising venture capital or going public, contact an accounting firm that has a track record working with promising smaller businesses.


8 – Before you begin a small to mid-size venture, obtain a business-owner’s policy to cover all your major property and business liability exposures.


9 – Ask your local or national professional and/or trade association if it has a group insurance arrangement with specialty brokers or insurers.


10 – Avoid “I can do it all” consultants.


11 – Use a written consulting agreement that specifies work assignments, responsibilities, and compensation.


12 – Assemble a board of directors to add credibility to your venture, enhance your corporation’s assets, and obtain management expertise and advice.


13 – Establish an advisory board to serve as your in-house management consulting team.


14 – Look for advisory board members or board directors who have the specialized knowledge and skills you lack.

Anatomy of an Online Home Based Business Owner

I have not been happy with my full time jobs. You may not have been either. Being of sound mind and judgement you may be on an adenture to change your fortunes. You wonder to yourself about the prospects of starting an online home based business. What led you to this decision and what course of action do you take to increase the chances of being successful online?

Let’s start with me and see if you can relate to my circumstance.


I started working when I was twelve years old. Didn’t make much money and spent what I made on anything I could get my hands on. I worked for fast food establishments as a teenager, because that is what we all do at that age for the most part. It is hard work. There is not much appreciation at the workplace. You can be replaced easily even though you think you may not be able to be replaced. Keep working hard and you may keep your job.


This just sets the precedence for the rest of your life. I joined the military in my early twenties. They pushed the concept of NCO (No chance outside) telling you that you have the best job available for your skill set…for about half of what you would make if your were to do the same thing in a civilian job. Even so, you join their clubs and socialize (in the 80s we called this drinking).


I got out of the military and finished a B.S. in Computer Science while unloading trucks, and setting records, for the largest employer in the United States. I’m a big guy. I have worked on training applications for a sister company to a Fortune 500 engineering and construction company, data collection applications for the largest vending and food distribution company in the United States, and cardiology computer systems for one of the largest employers in the Carolinas.


I continue to work for these companies and find myself broke, stressed out, disenchanted, and desperate. Being computer literate, and having used the internet for about 15 years, I asked myself the question why have I not tried to start an online home based business? Len, you are smart enough to do something like this and you are not happy doing what you are doing now, why don’t you try to do something different?


So I did do something different, part time. I love this online home based business so much that my biggest hope is to make it a full time venture. My market is other people who want to do the same and who are asking lot’s of questions about how to do it. I give them the same answers in this article.


I spend most of my spare time, about two hours a day, researching and writing articles. You can find them all if you search hard enough (Hint – search for my name in Google and look at the top). I do not have a lot at this point. I am still pretty new at this. The results of my efforts are evident though; because I am already on page one of Google and MSN for some of my keywords after only 5 months of work. I am sure that I am making some of the other online home based business owners very angry because now they have to work a little harder to maintain their placement in the search engines. Oh well!


I do not get real fancy about marketing my online home based business. I am not spamming with email because I do not do any email marketing. I don’t do it because I don’t like any of the spam I am currently receiving or asking for at least half the time. I am more likely to stop an e-zine subscription just because I am receiving the same message over and over again (Hear that Allen?). I have not been able to figure out the science of Google Adwords, so I do not spend any money on ads.


That is for later when my business is more profitable than it is and I can afford it. I have never been able to generate the kind of traffic with Adwords that I get from articles anyway.


Here are the things that I do on a routine basis so far:


  1. Articles – Write original content for the article directories and use Article Submitter Pro to submit them.


  1. Search Engine Optimization – Brad Callen’s SEO Made Easy is a guideline to optimize articles and web pages(online and

offline optimization).


  1. Linking Popularity – Research external link partners and link to as many as is humanly possible. I also do a lot of internal linking.


  1. Blogging – This is a great source for content and internal linking. I always link my posts back to all of my web pages.


  1. Article Directory – Owning an article directory is the fastest way to get internal back links. Every article contains a sponsor link back to the main web page.


  1. Directory Submission – Directory Submitter has hundreds of internet directories for both one way and reciprocal links.


  1. Forum Posting – Here it is again with the one way links. I think the search engines just like to see the online home based business owner engaged regularly.


  1. Looking at junk email. Sorry if I step on any toes here, but I made the mistake of submitting my website to the FFAs (Free For All). They sent me a thousand emails in one day! I didn’t know! This has tapered off now. Something about reporting it as spam to Yahoo (Oops!). I got banned from one of them, but that is OK. I don’t like it when someone emails me saying that my ads are not working. I wish spam would go away.


  1. Take lot’s of pictures – Used effectively in the article directory profiles and your own web pages is an extraordinary introduction!


  1. Relax and enjoy it – My main web page got 399 visits yesterday. The trend is up. My Alexa rank is down, which is a good thing.


  1. Start thinking – you know, this might just make it!


Expect no support from friends or family. Look at the surprise on their faces when your web page shows up on page one of the search engines. The online home based business owner looks for a rescue that can only come from within and is expressed in the design of something like a web page or an article. That and their friends in the forums who are going through the same thing. Relief from the markets of drudgery and slavery could be just around the corner with all of that help.


Leonard Bartholomew, B.S. Computer Science. Satisfy your craving for a home based business opportunity of your very own.

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.


  • — Man Tries to Pay Bill With Spider Drawing
  • — Man Tries to Pay Overdue Bill With Spider Drawing
  • — Spider Minus Leg Sells for Thousands
  • News — “Spider Man” Refuses to Pay for Drawing
  • — Chicago Bulls Bucket Boys
  • — You Tube Stars Don’t Always Welcome Record Deals
  • YouTube — Esmee Denters’ Official Channel
  • — Moms as Successful Home-Based Entrepreneurs
  • Liquid Paper — About Us
  • CBS News — Mother of the Miracle Mop
  • — Joy Mangano for the Home
  • IMDB — Peter Bergman
  • Dr. Drew Pinsky — Home
  • Mehmet Oz, M.D. — Home
  • — 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
  • — 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 — 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.

How to Write Business Proposals: Effectively Communicating Great Ideas Through Project Bids

Business proposalsWhat is a Proposal?

A proposal is a document generated by a company to obtain funding from another organization. While a business plan can be considered a proposal for the company as a whole, a proposal generally focuses on a specific opportunity for the business, whether it is a bid for a solicited job, or proposed research and development work.

While business people and innovators may come up with some great ideas, those ideas will simply languish unless they can be communicated in a way that gives them credibility. Proposals are one way that businesses can sell their ideas to organizations that will provide the business with funding. Proposals often have many of the same components as a business plan, just on a more focused level.

Proposals can be written in response to solicitations or grant announcements, or can be unsolicited; that is, the organization proactively approaches organizations that may have funding, rather than waiting for the announcement of a funding opportunity. Solicited proposals are generally more widely accepted, because they respond to a need that the soliciting organization has publicized.

Writing a Proposal

Like a business plan, a proposal requires a significant effort to effectively address the needs of the soliciting organization, to clearly express the solution brought forth by the proposing business, and to prove that the proposing business is the right person for the job.

A Project Bids should be written by a group of people within the organization that meet the various needs of the project. This could include, but is not limited to, project management, technical expertise, financial expertise, manufacturing and commercialization (for product development), and legal counsel.

Proposal Contents

A quality proposal should include (but is not limited to):

  • A detailed description of the work to be performed
  • Background of the problem to be solved (if applicable)
  • A task-based work plan with schedules and milestones
  • A listing of key personnel, including resumes and descriptions of each person’s responsibility within the proposed project
  • Summaries of relevant work performed in the past
  • Information about the company as a whole, showing why the business is the best choice for the job. Include general capabilities, facilities information (if applicable) and relevant assets
  • Information about consultants or subcontractors (if applicable)
  • Financial information including overall budget, labor and material costs and other information specified in the solicitation.

Different solicitations will require different content to be included in the responding proposal. It is important to refer to the solicitation or to the point of contact for the exact requirements for each proposal.