Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Traveling abroad? The increase in debit card fraud has caused us to block all debit card transactions originating outside the U.S. Youâ€™ll need to make arrangements if you plan to use your debit card while traveling. Learn how.
Our Current Rates:
For a listing of our current deposit and loan rates, click here.
Traits of Success
Jobs became scarce when the economy soured. Many chose to control their own destiny by starting their own business.
Yet the harsh reality is that less than 50 percent of small businesses successfully make it past four years of operation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the key is not exactly what you are doing, but how you do it.
The most successful entrepreneurs have found a way to profit from what they enjoy. It isn't as much an enterprise as it is sharing your interests or hobbies. Your enthusiasm is reflected in your day-to-day activities. If you don't enjoy what you're doing, you will not succeed.
Believe in what you do. You'll encounter customers who prefer a competitor's product line. Their previous mechanic changed the oil before the spark plugs. Or their last hairstylist spritzed while combing rather than waiting until the hairdo was in place.
These petty annoyances can dampen the spirits of someone who isn't confident in their own offerings. Believe in yourself and the goods or services you have to offer to overcome the negatives that are a natural part of life.
Winston Churchill once said, "Failing to plan is planning to fail." Makes no difference if you are a one-person shop or mega-corporation. You need a business plan.
A plan keeps focus on your long-term goals. It forces you to analyze any business situation you may encounter, preparing you in advance for whatever challenges lie ahead. A business plan measures each achievement you've attained, keeping you on-track to prosperity. Today's Second Flash will guide you through developing a business plan.
Don't be shy. Ask people to buy whatever you are selling. They won't automatically know why they need your widget. They may already know about your product, but don't realize you carry it in inventory. Tell people why they absolutely can't live without whatever you are trying to sell and what makes it better than the competition.
Know your customers. Understand their needs. Project a positive attitude, no matter what you're thinking inside. Research shows that 80 percent of your business will come from repeat customers. Keep them coming back! Make them feel part of the family. You can be the best at what you do, but you'll go broke quickly without customers.
Running your own business means much more than merely showing up for work eight hours a day. Even a one-person shop must perform all of the same duties as a multi-national corporation. There's the accounting, the purchasing, the inventory, the sales, the marketing, the bookkeeping, the leadership, customer service and the housekeeping. And in your spare time, you must perform whatever service you offer.
One person cannot perform every function properly. They require separate and distinct skill sets besides consuming too much time. Hire whatever professionals are necessary to get the job done right. You only have one head, there's a limit to how many hats you can wear at any given time. Pile on too many and they will come toppling over.
Become active in your community. Pitch in to help local charities, organize community events, or join civic associations. People prefer to do business with someone they know.
Your reputation is your biggest asset. Strive to become known as the best in your field. Be honest, treat others fairly. Be accessible. When you make the inevitable mistake, and we're all human, admit it and resolve the situation. Create the type of environment where you would want to conduct business.
You have to be stubborn and hard-headed to succeed. It takes great determination to get up every morning knowing you'll face all types of people with different needs, expectations and demands. It takes strength to remain cool and collective when a customer questions your ability in a confrontational manner. It takes stamina when the supply order you needed yesterday got delivered today. To someone with a similar name in a different state.
Still think you have what it takes? I'd wish you good luck - but that has nothing to do with success. Keep reading to learn about what does matter: a successful business plan.
You're about to take a long journey. There's so much to prepare.
Your car has to be up to the challenge. Are the tires rotated? Are the fluid levels topped off? Any potential mechanical issues to consider?
Are your bags packed? Is someone watching your home or pets? Have you booked lodging? What route will you take? And will you encounter construction areas along the way?
Starting a business is a life journey. Substitute car for laying the groundwork. You'll need to have all of your equipment identified and in working order to get off the ground running.
Your bags are the supplies you'll need to perform the job. The lodging and its security is where you'll actually do the work.
That leaves the most important part: Planning your route and overcoming obstructions along the path.
Your business plan is a road map to success. It generally projects 3-5 years ahead and outlines how you will reach goals. It serves as a basis for decision making.
Certain elements of a business plan remain consistent. Others are specific to industry or objective. We'll look at the key areas here.
Your plan should include an executive summary. This is a brief description of your plan as a whole, summarizing your company profile and goals.
Describe your company. What exactly will you do? How does it differ from others offering similar products? What markets will you serve? What type of insurance do you carry? What procedures will you follow to operate your business?
Next you'll include a market analysis. Identify your market viability and analyze the competition. This brings to light some of the challenges you might face, and prepares you to meet them head-on.
How will your business be structured? Will you operate as a sole-proprietor or incorporate? And what advantages/disadvantages will you face with your choice? What personnel will be enlisted to perform specific duties?
People need to know about your business. How do you plan to advertise? What is your sales strategy? What budget have you set to cover this?
Include a section about your product line. What exactly will you sell? How does it benefit your customers? Does it have a limited lifecycle?
If you're seeking funding, you'll need to include financial projections. Spell out how much you need and what you anticipate over the next five years. Detail how you plan to use the funds. Is it for capital expenditures or a new acquisition? Do you need working capital or to payoff some debt?
Include profit and loss statements, a balance sheet, capital equipment and supply list and assumptions upon which any projections were based.
Tax returns for the last three years of principals along with their resumes and personal financial statements should be included when you're seeking financial assistance. Copies of any contracts you fulfill, letters of intent from suppliers, business licenses and your lease are helpful too.
Several sites offer templates you can use to create your business plan. A quick web search can point you in the right direction. Be flexible. Not all sections pertain to you. And a lender won't penalize you for omitting something irrelevant.
But you will pay dearly if you skip the drill entirely. Your plan forms the foundation of your business. Without it, all you've built will crumble.
Technology vs. Cheap Labor...
I have friend who makes his living piloting Boeing 747's across the Pacific Ocean from the U.S. to Asia. When I ask him what it is like, he says, "Well, I drive to the airport and board a nearly million pound airplane. I find my way to the cockpit. I turn it on. It takes itself to Tokyo, lands itself, and taxis itself to the gate. The hardest part is getting a cab to the Marriott for a beer."
He is only half kidding, but the technology is truly astounding. And the modern day airline pilot is really only a "systems manager." That is, by some accounts, more a hindrance than a help - as virtually all accidents are pilot error, Sully's astounding fete not withstanding. The running joke in pilot lounges is there will be "One Dog, One Pilot" airliner. The pilot is on board to feed the dog, and the dog is on board to bite the pilot if he tries to touch anything.
Joking aside, the simple fact is that many of us will live to see the pilotless airliner. I am not sure I would board such a beast, but there is no question the capability is applied technology at its finest.
Economics Professor Donald Bumpass of the Texas University System has suggested that a great deal more than luck is required for societies to prosper. He points to the fact that some of the countries with the richest of resources are also mired in some of the greatest poverty. And some of countries with the least amount of natural resources often boast some of the highest standards of living.
This seems backward. For example, there are sheiks in the Middle East who are filthy rich from the vast oceans of oil beneath their feet. Yet some of the most oil rich nations are also among the poorest overall. Japan and much of Europe have meek natural resources, but also great wealth. The United States is not devoid of natural resources however our wealth is way out of proportion to our God given natural resources.
Bumpass' conclusions are in part drawn from the writings of Jared Diamond in his 1997 book "Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies". Jared goes to great length to explain how societies advance and to what degree.
Alan Greenspan may have made the term famous, but it was Joseph Schumpeter who coined the term "creative destruction" well over half a century ago. Simply put, it is society's ability to pursue a path of "continuous improvement" in the "application of technology" that creates wealth, and hence, high living standards and overall prosperity. There is some pain in the process. Bumpass would also argue that certain strong institutions are also required for prosperity, but you already know that as we have been talking about it for weeks.
So where is this all going? The standard economic dogma goes something like this: Advanced societies like the United States are increasingly forced to outsource labor to cheap, often third world countries in order to make products at a competitive price. The manufacturing base first declines and then eventually is eliminated as we transition to a low growth "service economy." This is the bane of capitalism.
Sound familiar? So the dye is cast and the United States' best economic days are behind. This is the conventional wisdom.
Except. Except that cheap labor, like a natural resource, is not the only, or even "a" required ingredient. I recently learned of an area of economics research that foresees a revitalization of manufacturing in the "technology rich" countries as machines and factory robotics take over even mundane tasks formerly accomplished by low skilled cheap labor. Better yet, the technological infrastructure to support this new manufacturing base will require all sorts of very skilled jobs, which in turn produce higher salaries and rising standards of living - a renaissance in manufacturing, so to speak. Considering the possibilities brightened my day.
GCFlash is a weekly e-mail sent only to its listed customers and associates free of charge. GCFlash informs customers of special product offerings which may be of interest, current interest rates on both deposit and loan products, selected financial news and other financial tidbits. GCFlash is intended to supplement the more comprehensive information listed on the GCF Web site at http://www.gcfbank.com.
For more comprehensive information, visit our Web site at http://www.gcfbank.com or call (856) 589-6600 Ext: 337 (Timothy P. Hand)GCFLASH PRIVACY STATEMENT
GCF maintains your e-mail address in a confidential and secure database along with much of your other account information, such as mailing address and telephone number, etc. Before aggregating our e-mailing list each week, we filter out any duplicates. In most cases, this inhibits the unintended e-mailing of multiple copies of GCFlash to a single e-mail address. However, because these account records are kept by both individual and account, there is a chance members of the same household could each receive a copy of GCFlash or any other transmission at the same e- mail address - resulting in multiple copies. For example, a husband and wife that both have accounts with GCF may both receive a copy because the names are different but listed at the same e-mail address. This is similar to the manner in which each individual may share a common telephone number. To handle this situation, GCF recommends you simply delete any extra copies of GCFlash as this will ensure that ALL individuals receive any future promotional mailings, which might only be targeted or offered to specific accountholders meeting certain criteria. GCF has the capability to suppress customer e-mail addresses so they are omitted from our transmission list. If you would rather have a specific household memberÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s e-mail address suppressed in our electronic database, simply send us a reply, as stated below, and indicate the accountholder for which you would like to have e-mail suppressed. Please keep in mind that this suppression will mean that NO future e-mails are sent, including special promotional offers. If you have any questions about this process or need additional information, please contact us at email@example.com.
If you would like to be removed from this electronic mailing list, please hit reply and place the word REMOVE in the subject line. Please note, removing your name from our electronic mailing list means GCF will send NO FUTURE NEWS or SPECIAL OFFERS.
Banking With Us