Invention Protection from Preying Vultures

Protecting Your InventionAll of us at one time or another have probably thought about creating a product or inventing a process to solve a problem. The United States Patent Office receives more than six hundred thousand applications for invention protection each year.

Equally as great is the desire to police and protect existing patents.  Llitigation costs on the resolution of a patent challenge will often run into the millions.

Let’s find out what we should know about patent applications and protection to keep preying vultures at bay.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM GREGORY AHRENS, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ATTORNEY AT WOOD, HERRON & EVANS LLP

WHAT SHOULD AN INVENTOR DO BEFORE APPLYING FOR A PATENT?  (1:22 in)

In Greg’s words – Documenting their invention and the process they’ve gone through to come up with the invention and secondly some preliminary research to determine what other patents or prior inventions already exist.

Insight – The status of what currently exists plays a major role in determining the viability and scope of a patent. The first inventor to file, not when it was invented is key.

HOW LONG DOES THE PATENT APPLICATION PROCESS TAKE? (3:18 in)

In Greg’s words – It can take from several weeks to a couple of months.

Insight – The timeline depends upon the complexity of the description and drawings as well as the investigation into other patents or applications similar to the one that is to be filed.

ARE THERE LIMITATIONS TO A PATENT’S INVENTION PROTECTION? (3:58 in)

In Greg’s words – The term of the patent is 20 years from the original filing date of the patent application. The patent may have broader or narrower scope depending upon what other patents and products pre-existed at the time the invention was created.  

Insight – Don’t assume a patent protects you from all competition.

HOW DO YOU DETERMINE WHETHER A PATENT IS BEING VIOLATED? (4:54 in)

In Greg’s words – Do an infringement analysis. Evaluate whether the product that may infringe   has all of the required elements.

Insight – Pursuing an infringement case will probably be futile if the product in question doesn’t possess all of the required elements of the patent holder for invention protection.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHETHER TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION AGAINST AN INFRINGING ENTITY? (6:07 in)

In Greg’s words – It’s a business decision. How important is it to the company to police the marketplace.

Insight – Determine the value of the patent to the business versus the cost of litigation or the cost of getting an injunction to stop use.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOUR PATENT SHORT OF PURSUING LITIGATION? (8:26 in)

In Greg’s words – Companies can send a cease and desist letter. There’s one potential drawback. The recipient who has now been accused of infringement, they can then go to court and file a suit where they seek the court’s judgment that they didn’t infringe. An alternative, they can also establish a licensing program.

Insights– The goal is to prompt a dialogue between the parties in dispute. Weigh the probability of a reverse infringement lawsuit. As an alternative, consider creating a licensing program to collect royalties from others seeking to profit from your invention.

WHAT STEPS SHOULD A COMPANY TAKE IF THEY WERE ACCUSED OF INFRINGING UPON SOMEONE ELSE’S PATENT? (13:28 in)

In Greg’s words – One thing that should not be done is ignoring the notification. Determine if you have a defense. Engage in dialogue and try to seek resolution early.

Insights – Have your patent attorney do some research to assess whether you are an infringer or not. Based on the strength of your case, you may choose to go to court seeking a declaration against the charge. Or you could propose to become a licensee of the patent being contested.

Proven Health Wellness Program for Business

Health Wellness ProgramU.S. employers know that increasing productivity and profitability is linked to the health of its employees. According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, at least 7 out of 10 American employers offer some form of employee health wellness program. This is up 21% since 2008.

So what kind of wellness program should employers offer today? We’ll talk to a doctor of integrative medicine about this.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM DR. GARY HUBER OF HUBER PERSONALIZED MEDICINE.

WHAT IS INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE?  (1:19 in)

In Dr. Huber’s words – What that implies is we are going to take a broader at your health….a look at your nutrition, your sleep patterns, your stress, your exercise and your lifestyle.

Insight – The goal of this form of medicine is to try to reverse or prevent disease when the patient is willing and able to change their lifestyle.

IS PERSONALIZED MEDICINE ANOTHER WAY TO DESCRIBE INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE? (3:44 in)

In Dr. Huber’s words – We’re going to look at your genetics because your genetics let us know what you’re predisposed for.

Insight – According to Dr. Huber, genetics are responsible for only 15-20% of our health result. But by looking at those genetics ahead of time, it’s possible to take measures to avoid diseases you may be more susceptible to get.

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL HEALTH WELLNESS PROGRAM INVOLVE? (6:04 in)

In Dr. Huber’s words – Preventive care programs. If we can identify issues and put them on drug therapy, that will avoid costs.   

Insight – Having lunch and learns or providing financial incentives to participate are having only marginal impact. One of the biggest challenges continues to be getting people to engage in a program.

IS THERE A BETTER APPROACH TO HEALTH WELLNESS? (9:43 in)

In Dr. Huber’s words – If we took Joe and Joe lost 50 pounds and he started eating different and he looked different and his energy was better, guess what his co-workers said, what are you doing? Show me how to do that.

Insight – Select the riskiest group of employees, those that potentially could cost the business the most in healthcare cost. Work on getting them healthier. If material changes occur in them, others in the employee pool will want to follow their lead.

IS YOUR HEALTH WELLNESS PROGRAM TYPICALLY SIX MONTHS? (12:20 in)

In Dr. Huber’s words – It takes someone six months to truly change their mindset. What we’re really working on is what’s between the ears.

Insight – Results come quicker, but to maintain better habits for the long term requires an initial program of several months followed by periodic follow ups. People who have been in the program for a while can be mentors for others thinking about participating.

CAN AN INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE PROGRAM BE AFFORDABLE FOR A BUSINESS WITH LESS THAN 50 EMPLOYEES? (15:10 in)

In Dr. Huber’s words – Yes. In the very first group we ran through we had a 49% reduction in medication costs. Savings in drug costs more than paid for the program.

Insights– In evaluating ROI consider the cost benefit of less absences and more importantly, employees working at their job instead of languishing because they don’t feel well.

DO YOU HAVE ANY CONTACT WITH THE PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS OF THE EMPLOYEES? (19:09 in)

In Dr. Huber’s words – We can and sometimes do. I’m not going in there to be their primary care physician.

Insights – Patients are encouraged to share recommended lifestyle changes with their doctor. Sometimes implementing a lifestyle change program becomes a collaborative effort between the primary care physician and the integrative medicine provider.

Do Public Relations This Way

Your Public Relations ImageWhat is more believable, an article or an advertisement? Michael Levine, well known Hollywood publicist and author of the bestselling book Guerilla P.R. describes the value of public relations this way. “Depending upon how you measure and monitor, an article is between 10 times and 100 times more valuable than an advertisement.”

Today we’re going to be talking with another public relations expert about how to unlock that value in an ever changing world of ways to communicate.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM RICK MILLER, CEO OF RICK MILLER COMMUNICATIONS

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES DOES SMALL BUSINESS HAVE FOR GENERATING PRESS?  (1:18 in)

In Rick’s words –   Find out where customers and prospects get their information. The opportunity to tell your story in an earned media way or to have a story written about you is actually shrinking.

Tip – Do some homework to identify where people you want to reach hang out. Identify which communication channels are most effective for you to generate your own press.

WHAT’S THOUGHT LEADERSHIP? (3:15 in)

In Rick’s words –   A thought leader can clearly espouse a point of view about a product category, a trend, a legislative or legal issue and share it with others.

Tip – Determine whether there could be value in becoming an expert or authority upon your industry or a niche sector of the industry. In a highly competitive business, the ability to make yourself into a thought leader separates you from your competitors and is likely to attract more customers.

HOW IMPORTANT IS EXECUTIVE BRANDING? (5:05 in)

In Rick’s words –   It sets a tone for the organization. There’s a symbiotic relationship between strong executive leadership and communication externally and internally.  

Tip – Effort to brand yourself reinforces the company brand. Studies have shown how doing this well improves internal recruiting, teamwork and employee retention.

IS BAD PRESS BETTER THAN NO PRESS AT ALL? (7:33 in)

In Rick’s words –   There are two schools of thought. Any press is good press or you want to avoid bad press.

Tip – While a single bad response is not likely to hurt you, remember that with the internet, there is a permanent record that won’t go away. Be transparent and correct misinformation.

WHAT METHODS CAN COMPANIES USE TO GET NEWS OUT ABOUT THEMSELVES? (12:04 in)

In Rick’s words –   You have to take the news into your own hands. Find the tools you can manage well, stay on top of and use every day to ensure you’re getting the maximum return.

Tip – Don’t undervalue email. It is still a preferred message delivery method with informative information, not sales pitches. Facebook is a prime example.

HAS THE PRESS RELEASE OUTLIVED ITS USEFULLNESS? (14:25 in)

In Rick’s words –   Yes and no. In the past it used to be the only way to share news and information about what you were doing to the news media. Today it can become an SMS feed or something where people sign up to get information about your organization.

Tip – Press releases placed on your website let people know what is going on in your company and may improve your visibility in Google search.

HOW SHOULD YOU MEASURE THE VALUE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS? (16:16 in)

In Rick’s words –   There is not a direct cause and effect to what you are doing. Track the kind of feedback you get from friends, family, colleagues.

Tip – Put a link in your press release, Facebook or Twitter post for example that tracks back to your website. Measure entrance to the website from those sources.

HOW SHOULD YOU EVALUATE A PUBLIC RELATIONS AGENCY? (18:25 in)

In Rick’s words –   Do they have the ability to provide counsel and strategy. Do they understand media, messaging and have a strong understanding of social media.

Tip – Know what you want to accomplish and establish your goals. This will make it easier for you to evaluate a public relations agency.

How a Business Turnaround Happens

Business TurnaroundPerhaps the only thing constant in business today is change. As a famous inventor reminds us – “when you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” Ironically this prophetic statement comes from Ben Franklin, not someone in need of a business turnaround today.

Change has impacted the printing industry dramatically. Yet Corporate Document Solutions has grown its business despite the hurricane going on around it. Listen to what Mary Percy, the company’s president says about the business turnaround it made. She offers some recommendations to others who face similar issues in their industries.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM MARY PERCY, PRESIDENT OF CORPORATE DOCUMENT SOLUTIONS.

IS IT TRUE THAT YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE LOOKING FOR YOU TO FULFILL THEIR NEEDS DIFFERENTLY?  (5:06 in)

In Mary’s words –   They need a very efficient way to process orders. They have to have storefronts where multiple employees can go online and order.

Tip – Examine your customer’s needs from their perspective. Seek to make it easier and better to do business with you.

HAS YOUR VISION OF THE BUSINESS CHANGED?  (7:06 in)

In Mary’s words –   We’ve clarified our mission over the years as our strengths have been revealed through experience.

Tip – Achieve clarity by understanding what the customer wants and what you can deliver.

HOW HAS CLARITY OF VISION AFFECTED THE WAY YOU OPERATE?  (7:44 in)

In Mary’s words –   We’ve invested in system management software.

Tip – Evaluate whether updated technology can improve productivity and increase profitability.

HOW HAVE THESE CHANGES AFFECTED THE WAY YOU SELL?  (10:08 in)

In Mary’s words –   We analyzed which industries were continuing to need print products for legal, technical, or logistical reasons and focused on selling to those markets.

Tip – Target sales where the opportunity exists. Accounts are won by reducing costs and improving processes.

WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR TOUGHEST CHALLENGES?  (14:57 in)

In Mary’s words –   We had to streamline efficiencies.

Tip – The quicker you can satisfy your customer’s needs, the stronger your relationship will be.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER BUSINESSES EXPERIENCING DRAMATIC CHANGE?  (16:30 in)

In Mary’s words –   Have a proactive mindset. Analyze trends and rates of consumption. Seek out new business opportunities in that business industry. Ask your customers what they want.

Tip – By examining objectively the totality of the business process from beginning to end, clarity is possible to move forward instead of backward.

 

What’s Your 2017 Small Business Marketing Strategy?

Marketing StrategyAs the new year begins, are you thinking about how to market your business? Developing a small business marketing strategy requires an introspective look into your current customers. How did you attract them? Does does that apply to new customer acquisition?

According to a Borrell Associates survey of nearly 4 thousand local advertisers, the top six ways to attract new customers are a blend of online and offline activities. So let’s hear from an expert in small business marketing strategy about how to attract this year’s customers.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM CHARLENE BURKE, OWNER SEARCH BY BURKE

WHAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN A MARKETING STRATEGY?  (1:27 in)

In Charlene’s words –   Most small business owners think a marketing strategy is all around how much money am I going to be spending this year to make more money. It isn’t the bulk of your strategy.

Tip – Identify how you get your business today. Is it through referrals, your website, social media, advertising, email, events, or all of the above? It is always easier and less expensive to generate business from existing customers instead of new customers.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE IN MARKETING THROUGH A SMARTPHONE VERSUS A PERSONAL COMPUTER OR TABLET? (4:10 in)

In Charlene’s words –   Think about what the user is doing.

Tip – The size of the device, the environment in which it is used, and the nature of the user’s activity is important. Size of text, size of buttons, speed of playback, length of content, interactive functions, and simplicity of navigation are key.

WHAT SHOULD I REMEMBER ABOUT MY WEBSITE? (7:00 in)

In Charlene’s words –   Please make it mobile ready. Add a click to call option.

Tip – You can use your website as a research tool to figure out whether a new product can be sold successfully. Dig into your analytics to discover how people are using your website. This data can be extremely useful in creating your marketing strategy.

WILL BUSINESS CONTINUE TO BUY ADVERTISING ON SOCIAL MEDIA? (10:45 in)

In Charlene’s words –   Yes, they can get in front of their ideal customer. If you want to get your message in front of a buying customer, you are going to have to pay for it.

Tip – Know where your customers hang out on social media.

HOW CAN YOU GET NOTICED THROUGH PUBLISHING CONTENT? (12:43 in)

In Charlene’s words –   If you want to make money with your efforts online, go back to what we used to call education marketing. Write something that is useful to the user.

Tip – Narrow your focus. Don’t write for everybody. Solve their problems. Give them something they value.

WHAT IS A MASTERMIND GROUP?  (14:30 in)

In Charlene’s words –   Members helping members. It’s peer to peer. Business or personal issues. It’s people talking about ways to get your business on focus again, on track. You leave with some solid ideas you can put to use.

Tip – Regardless of the size of your business, consider joining some kind of peer group to get feedback, advice and counsel from others who can see you’re your business, your marketing strategy or personal situation in a way you can’t.

What Accountants Know About Business Survival and Failure

Business Survival
Business Survival

Eight out of ten entrepreneurs crash and burn within the first 18 months of starting their business according to Bloomberg News. On the other hand, 51% of small businesses are surviving after 5 years.  The federal government’s Small Business Administration says this is the highest rate since 1994. Here’s the difference between business survival and failure according to two long time CPA’s who work with small and medium size businesses.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM CPA’s MARK REDER & SCOTT WIESNER

WHAT ARE SOME COMMON CHARACTISTICS OF CASH FLOW PROBLEMS?  (2:03 in)

In Scott’s words –   Without sales no cash is going to come in the door. The business owner has to monitor collecting receivables.

In Mark’s words – A lot of businesses don’t do budgets when they get into business. They have to be prepared, some clients won’t pay them.

Tip – Prepare for the lag time between the period to generate the sale, complete the work or produce and deliver the product, invoice, and be paid. Business survival requires that you make sure resources are available to handle the lag time and receivables that you may not collect.

IF A COMPANY USES QUICKBOOKS TO DO ITS BOOKKEEPING, WHEN DOES IT NEED AN ACCOUNTING FIRM? (3:15 in)

In Scott’s words – A business owner needs to determine how much time he is spending doing the work. It doesn’t generate sales.

Tip – Use an accounting firm to teach you QuickBooks and streamline the process so it doesn’t hinder running the business. With access via the cloud, an accountant can collaborate on any journal entries that need adjustment and compiling statements.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES/DISADVANTAGES OF RECORDING FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS IN THE CLOUD?  (5:15 in)

In Mark’s words –   Being in the cloud hopefully offers some better backup.  

Tip – Having financials in the cloud allows for easy accessibility while travelling. Assistance from your accountant is faster. If your server or in house backups fail, you have an additional safety net.

WHAT DO WE NEED TO KNOW IN CLASSIFYING SOMEONE AS AN EMPLOYEE VS. AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR?  (10:25 in)

In Scotts’s words –   They (the IRS) is going to look at control, control over the employees.

Tip – Check out the IRS 20 factor list at IRS.gov that defines the appropriate business relationship to have with an independent contractor.

WHAT ARE SOME TRAITS OF SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES?  (11:54 in)

In Mark’s words –   You have to have goals set out and budgets in place. What you can measure you can manage.

Tip – Monitor the financial picture according to what impact changes in staff, products and prices have on how the business performs. Use your accountant to model business variables like price changes, inventory changes, impact of new hires, etc. Business survival is much more likely implementing these practices.

WHAT SHOULD BUSINESSES NOT IGNORE FOR TAX PURPOSES BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR?  (14:54 in)

In Scott’s words –   Take the 179 Section tax deduction on equipment purchases. Defer income, accelerate expenses.

Tip – Don’t forget retirement contributions too.

WHAT RED FLAGS WOULD TRIGGER AN AUDIT?  (16:05 in)

In Mark’s words – (The IRS) They have such a large database. They are comparing you to industry norms. Any category that is out of the norm, the more of those you have the more likely you are to be audited.

Trend – Fewer numbers of small businesses are being audited.

Wake Up Small Business – Stop Cyber Thieves!

Cyber ThievesCyber crime is an epidemic. Cyber thieves prey particularly on small business because their computer, network and WiFi security measures are often vulnerable. IBM Chairman Ginni Rometty states – “We believe that data is the phenomenon of our time. It is the world’s new natural resource. It is the new basis of competitive advantage, and it is transforming every profession and industry. If all of this is true – even inevitable – then cyber crime, by definition, is the greatest threat to every profession, every industry, every company in the world.”

Yet computer, network, and WiFi security options are more cost effective than breach recovery. Listen to how you can protect your business from cyber thieves.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM BENSON WRIGHT, STRATEGIC NETWORKING CONSULTANT AT BRIGHTISYS.

HOW SECURE ARE OFFICES CONNECTED THROUGH WI-FI?  (1:27 in)

In Benson’s words –   These systems are low lying fruit for cyber criminals.

Tip – Determine whether your Wi-Fi network is open, connected to your server, and can be easily accessed by an unwanted outsider.

WHAT SHOULD BUSINESS DO TO MAKE THESE WI-FI NETWORKS MORE SECURE? (2:07 in)

In Benson’s words – Look at a new type of threat management solution that is comprehensive to your entire network, one that includes PCs, laptops and smartphones.

Tip – Look for a system that will do anti-virus scanning and malware scanning and be able to be customized to fit your business activity needs. These systems can protect remote as well as in house traffic.

DO COMPANIES DO ENOUGH TO EDUCATE EMPLOYEES ABOUT POTENTIAL HACKING THREATS FROM CYBER THIEVES? (5:59 in)

In Benson’s words – Most people don’t understand the level of sophistication of these threats.

Tip – Have a policy that requires periodic changing of passwords. Have an IT tech check the employee’s personal devices for anti-virus and malware software. Block certain categories of sites from access to your network.

SHOULD ALL BUSINESS BE MOVING DATA TO THE CLOUD? (9:10 in)

In Benson’s words – Businesses should have a cloud footprint somewhere, somehow at this point.

Tip – Double check that being in the cloud doesn’t compromise privacy regulations.

HOW SHOULD A COMPANY RESPOND TO A DATA BREACH? (10:28 in)

In Benson’s words – Make sure it is documented for HR (human relations) purposes. Then the authorities can be notified if necessary.

Tip – Be able to track logins, IP addresses, capture communication packets and isolate the cyber threat. Compare the cost of purchasing a unified threat management router with protection software to the hours of time and dollars that would have to be spent to restore a compromised network.

WHY DON’T MORE PEOPLE STEP UP TO PROTECT THEMSELVES? (14:53 in)

In Benson’s words – Most of it is the standard old – it’s not going to happen to me. People don’t know what to do.

Tip – Compare the cost of purchasing a unified threat management router with protection software to the hours of time and dollars that would have to be spent to restore a compromised network.

Turn Yourself into a Better Public Speaker

Public Speaker Stage FrightWhat do people fear more than spiders, darkness, heights, flying in airplanes, confined spaces and even death? It’s glossophobia – public speaking or stage fright. An effective public speaker knows how to overcome the anxiety of presenting and deliver the right message.  Listen to how to do it.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM SHELLEY BAMBERGER, COMMUNICATION EXPERT

WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD PUBLIC SPEAKER?  (2:26 in)

In Shelley’s words – The best communicator connects with his or her audience.

Tip – Do your homework to understand what the audience needs and is looking for from you. Then adapt your message to fit those needs.

WHAT COMMUNICATION SKILLS NEED IMPROVING? (5:07 in)

In Shelley’s words – What is it about my message that matters to the audience. The second issue is the overuse of filler words (you know, like, uh, basically, etc.) is only part of the equation.

Tip – Record and critique your presentation to become more aware of filler words. Assess whether your message resonated with the audience. Focus on  “You” rather than “I” in the presentation.

WHAT IS IGNORED IN MAKING PRESENTATIONS? (8:50 in)

In Shelley’s words – Practice. You have to do the hard work that’s needed to do well.

Tip – Practice in short spurts, several times before your presentation. You’ll retain more in long term memory.

WHAT MAKES PRESENTATIONS STAND OUT? (10:42 in)

In Shelley’s words – Ask questions. When the audience answers a question the information goes into their long term memory. Tell stories. By telling stories you are in sync with your audience.

Tip – Figure out which kind of question styles and stories may work for the audience you’re addressing.

IS HUMOR NECESSARY? (12:36 in)

In Shelley’s words – I think humor may be over rated. It’s not critical to deliver a message but it can provide an avenue to connect with the audience.

Tip – Don’t tell jokes. Interact with your audience to listen for when they laugh. They may provide a humorous anecdote or story you can capitalize on.

HOW CAN YOU OVERCOME SPEECH ANXIETY? (15:15 in)

In Shelley’s words – An element of fear is good. To control it the answer is square breathing.

Tip – Learn how to increase your oxygen to calm the nerves.

 

Small Business Healthcare – High Wire Act

Healthcare High Wire ActPwC the international accounting and consulting firm, projects that healthcare costs in the U.S. will rise 6.5% next year, the same as this year. That is more than 4 times the estimated rate of inflation according to Statistica, a quantitative research firm. Nevertheless, PwC says healthcare cost inflation could escalate further.

So what is an employer to do? We’ll talk with a group benefits consultant about how small business is coping with healthcare costs for their employees.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM FRANK LOPEZ, GROUP BENEFITS CONSULTANT AT SAXON FINANCIAL

PRIOR TO THE ELECTION, ARE COMPANIES APPROACHING HOW TO HANDLE HEALTHCARE IN 2017 DIFFERENTLY? (3:26 in)

In Frank’s words –   Not really. Most employers are frustrated with the costs and forced penalties.  But a lot of people are relying on their employer to provide and guide them.

Tip – Having healthcare benefits is becoming more important for hiring and employee retention.

WHO IS SEEKING TO CREATE MORE PART TIME JOBS TO LIMIT THEIR HEALTH CARE COSTS?  (4:50 in)

In Frank’s words – You’ll find that strategy being put into play with retail and service industries.

Tip – More important than part-time / full time is the total number of employees in the company since the government healthcare requirement begins at 50 employees.

ARE EMPLOYEES BEING ASKED TO CARRY MORE OF THE HEALTH COST BURDEN?  (6:28 in)

In Frank’s words – For the small business, it’s inevitable for them to be able to sustain a benefits plan. For those businesses between 2-50 employees, they may have to cut out their dependents. 

Tip –Companies see having less or more than 50 employees as the most important factor.

FOR COMPANIES UNDER 50 EMPLOYEES THAT ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PROVIDE HEALTHCARE, WHY ARE THEY OFFERING HEALTH BENEFITS?  (8:30 in)

In Frank’s words – The employee is demanding it. They are coming back after the exchange not being as successful as they had hoped clamoring for benefits.  

Tip – Not offering health benefits makes it a lot easier for employees to look elsewhere for a job.

FOR EMPLOYERS WHO ARE DIRECTING THEIR EMPLOYEES TO THE EXCHANGE, IN WHAT WAYS ARE THEY EQUIPPING THEM TO MAKE THESE DECISIONS?  (9:30 in)

In Frank’s words – I don’t think the employer is taking on the responsibility of educating and hand holding their people. 

Tip – Outsourcing this responsibility may be the best approach.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO STOP THE ESCALATION OF HEALTHCARE COSTS  (11:23 in)

In Frank’s words – Congress has to start working together. In the immediate future I expect to see what we’ve been seeing. To stabilize the system, it will need to control costs of the hospitals, physicians, and pharmacies.

Tip – Look into a multiple group, self funding health pool.

WHAT ARE SOME THINGS A BROKER CAN PROVIDE? (15:44 in)

In Frank’s words – Show the employers what the options and costs are for individuals and as a group. It’s eye opening.

Tip – Push your broker for all the options and impartial information.

How to Make a Family Business Last

Family Business
Tina & Dale Engdahl of Exciting Windows by Apollo

Family business is the bedrock of the American economy. More than half of the national GDP comes from them. However, when the reins are transferred from the first generation to the second, 70% of them perish. How do you make a family business last?

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM DALE & TINA ENGDAHL, OWNERS OF THE FAMILY BUSINESS EXCITING WINDOWS BY APOLLO

WHAT MAKES YOUR BUSINESS WORK WELL?  (2:38 in)

In Dale’s words –   We treat our customers in the way we want to be treated. We do what we say and say what we’re going to do.

Tips – Have a clear division of responsibility. Have a definite plan for paying yourself and employees. Make sure all bases from client contact to project completion are being executed reliably and on time.

AS A HUSBAND – WIFE TEAM, HOW DO YOU HANDLE COMMUNICATION ABOUT THE BUSINESS IN RELATION TO YOUR PERSONAL LIFE? (4:34 in)

In Tina’s words – We talk about it until one or the other says, I’ve had enough. Because we’re so different we don’t think alike. A lot of thinking takes place before anything is accomplished.

Tip – Respect and understand each other’s position. Seek common ground.

WHAT ARE THE TOUGHEST BUSINESS DECISIONS? (9:12 in)

In Tina’s words – During a recession when you have to decide what you can’t spend money on anymore. In Dale’s words – on a personal level and a business level.

Tip – Saving ahead to withstand tough times is very important.

DO YOU TAKE VACATIONS SEPARATELY OR TOGETHER? (10:45 in)

In Tina’s words – It’s important to get away alone and together.

Tip – Take a break to stay strong!

HOW DO YOU RETAIN EMPLOYEES? (12:32 in)

In Dale’s words – Listen to them. Be flexible with their schedule. Pay them well. Treat them the way I would want to be treated.

Tip – Praise employees for a job well done.

HOW DO YOU INVOLVE & MANAGE OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS IN THE BUSINESS? (13:40 in)

Tip – Let your kids decide whether they want to be involved in the business. If they participate, teach them to assume the responsibilities as if they were just employees.

WHAT SHOULD YOU REMEMBER TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS? (16:00 in)

In Tina’s words – Your client will always be your boss.

Tip – Realize that while you have the freedom to re-arrange your schedule for personal reasons, time away from work will have to be made up.