Experience is often the best teacher. When new opportunities are presented, on what basis do you make the decision to accept or decline an offer? Not all business is the best match and in fact might cause more harm than good. What is the true cost of working with a client? There are many ways to evaluate whether to proceed or opt to walk away and perhaps make a referral for the client. After all, this could be a dream project for someone else and not only will you have served yourself, but by being proactive, you have also preserved your reputation and sanity.

Three red flags to pay attention to:

1. The PROJECT is not a fit!
If you are not crystal clear in identifying who your ideal client is, then anyone with a check book is fair game. This may sound ludicrous, but the reality is that until you have done your homework and understand your business mission and core competencies, you will continue to be frustrated by the relationships you cultivate. While you should not decline every job that is less than ideal, flexibility is important, it is critical to understand when the cost of doing business is too high. Will you have to invest in becoming conversant with an industry unfamiliar to you, hire experts or purchase new equipment? Is there true value here or do you need to walk away?

2. The PEOPLE are not a fit!
First impressions are made within 30-seconds of meeting someone. Pay attention to how you feel in the presence of the prospect. People do business with people they like and even a short-term project with a difficult group can make the time an energetic drain which also depletes other resources. Are you prepared to regularly justify your fees, manage a challenging client or be on 24-hour call? While you do not have to love the client or become the best of friends, warning signs that they may be overly demanding or reactive makes the case for saying “no”.

3. The PROCESS is not a fit!
When you override your initial reaction or force fit a project into your business you can write the final script in advance and it may be one that you are all too familiar with; a promise NEVER to do x again! What is the overall experience you want for yourself and/or your group? Is this a project you are anxious to do but the timeline is not workable? Does it contribute to your portfolio, experience or future work you hope to do? Is the proposal in alignment with your personal and professional goals and values and does it add to your bottom line? Understand the scope of what you are getting into before you commit.

Walking away from someone who wants to pay you is not easy. Increase your fees to compensate for the project, person(s) or process that is not a good fit? Of course you can, but is that the best way to do business? If your resources are stretched to the limit servicing clients you do not want, where is the space for those you really want to be on board? By saying “no” to the wrong fit you can also say “yes” to the better client, project, or opportunity that is also out there looking for their best match.
©2011 Maureen Weisner

M. Weisner Coaching & Consulting
provides one-on-one personal and executive coaching to Women on the Edge®… of Change. We create a partnership with our clients as they identify the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Together we design, strategize, and implement a structure for the client to work from in achieving her goals.

We focus on how change impacts your life from moment to moment and for the long term. Our programs provide:

Exercises to identify what you really want and what is preventing you from obtaining it
Motivational strategies to support your transition
Tools and perspectives to reinforce these strategies
Follow-up to keep you on track

Dishonesty Is Not Honesty In Disguise
There was an exposé recently in the Boston Globe about the fishing industry. I was one of the readers struck by the epidemic of mislabeled fish, but it was a local chef’s comment that caught my eye. He commented that he thought it was perfectly fine in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to say that sablefish was butterfish. He liked to use the word, butterfish, because it rolled off the tongue better.
There is not a state within the United States that allows misrepresentation. Misrepresentation is dishonesty about material facts. You need to give consumers the right information about your product. Therefore the accurate name of your product or service is important.
In the same week I came across another article, not in the Boston Globe, but an online source where the author was advocating plagiarizing web content. Yes, it was eye-catching, and I can imagine it made an effective tweet, but again, like misrepresentation, this is not allowed. Just look at the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. If you feel someone has stolen content from your website, then you can send a cease a desist letter for them to take it down.
For example, let’s say one of your clients has given you permission to use their comment. “XYZ business was great. Claire helped explain exactly what I needed to bring attention to my business. AB, my new product wouldn’t have been a success without her.” Now we add in a new competitor who doesn’t have any feedback, and they take your comment as their own, just changing the name. Is that fair? You would follow the Digital Millennium Copyright Act so that you could stop your competitor from using your quote.
Remember be clear and honest about your business even when it comes to marketing. Advertising is important for your business, and you need to be creative, but not dishonest. Not all fishes are the same. You cannot plagiarize from a website, no matter how much you wish that was your content. It’s not.

If you need advice on this type of situation, contact True North Business Consulting.

“I don’t know how to negotiate.” I hear this quite a bit. Many people do not know how to approach a negotiation, especially women. They are stuck with the idea of what they see on television or in movies, which depict one person coming on strong and the other person caving in. That is not negotiating. Does this sound familiar?

I believe in the collaborative approach where the parties prepare for the negotiation by thinking up options. If the other party does not want to try this style, then you can prepare on your own. You need to prepare because what I also see happening is that people do not bring any evidence that support their options.

Let me be blunt- you need proof. In a negotiation I would not believe another side’s idea is good because they told me so. I would believe it if I saw a chart or information on what someone else had done before (that had been successful). Take the time to do some research.

Let me give an example. You want to add a line of products to your office. The product representative contacts you and gives you general information to sign, but you are hesitant even though you really like the products.

1. Read over the cost.
2. What are the ordering procedures?
3. Find other people in the area who carry the products and talk to them. What kind of deal did they make?
4. Armed with this information you can now negotiate.

Without getting more information, you would have made a bad deal. By getting that information you can now support asking for a better deal.

True North provides negotiating coaching services so you can comfortably negotiate your way through any business deal.

You are an integrative health practitioner, an acupuncturist, a yoga instructor, a massage therapist, naturopath, or health coach. You help others, and are an expert in your field, having studied and worked hard to develop your practice. However, a practice involves business know-how. Entrepreneurs, Cynthia Pasciuto of True North Business Consulting and Laura Greer of Mandala Services have formed the Institute of Integrative Business Studies to provide online business education to health and wellness practitioners.
Cynthia and Laura are not newcomers to the health and wellness field. Cynthia has taught at the local acupuncture school along with teaching at the undergraduate level. Laura has helped practitioners start, grow and manage thriving health and wellness practicices, has worked for yoga studios and has been a yoga instructor for over ten years. They both noticed there was a need for business knowledge often being asked for advice on social media, marketing, management and legal assistance. They wanted the health and wellness practitioners to succeed.
The Institute of Integrative Business Studies℠ is launching The Integrative Business Program℠, a series of online seminars aimed at helping integrative health practitioners learn what it takes to start, maintain and grow a successful practice. The objective of the Integrative Business Program℠ is to educate integrative health practitioners in order to improve their chances for success and to increase the accessibility of qualified practitioners available to the consumer. The program teaches participants crucial business and practice management principles in the areas of Patient & Clinical Management, Marketing & Public Relations, Accounting, Insurance and Finance, and Business Law.

The Integrative Business Program℠ consists of a number of courses that run for a length of -6 weeks each. Weekly online sessions are 1 hour in length and each course is taught by an expert in the topic.

Courses start in September. Sign up today for a free introductory webinar on Tuesday, August 30th- Jumpstart Your Business: Top Ten Things You Need to Know! Sign up for the free webinar at http://www.integrativebusinessstudies.com/jumpstart

The Institute of Integrative Business Studies℠, where holistic health and business practices meet, is sponsored by the Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Association of Massachusetts and The National Institute of Whole Health.

More information at http://www.integrativebusinessstudies.com or
Contact: inquire@integrativebusinessstudies.com

Yes, usually an article like this would come at the end of September at the beginning of fall, but I did my traveling in May and June this year so I wanted to share what I learned.

Look before you step:
In Florida I stepped on a stinging bee/wasp. To this day I have no idea what insect family it was in, but I was enjoying the beach and the next thing I know my foot is on fire. An emergency room visit, an IV course of antibiotics along with having the stinger still in my foot for 12 days later is a reminder that you have to asses risk before going into a venture, and to have a plan in case something happens. In project management it is called Risk Management; there should always be a Plan B.

You have to think about marketing all the time:
Tennessee was having unusually hot, humid weather for June. In Nashville with my friends we went to Broadway. If you have never been to Nashville, this is where you can find country music being played. I was tired and decided to go back to the hotel, and a friend said she was ready to go back too. We walked and she pointed out a minor celebrity. She wanted to continue walking, but I wanted to go up to him. I pulled her with me, and we ended up having a fifteen minute conversation where he tried to convince us to join a Facebook campaign. It taught me that every conversation is a marketing opportunity, which is why True North always thinks about the marketing element when providing legal coaching.

Negotiate properly
In Ireland I forgot the key step in negotiations-sometimes a cultural translator is needed. I have been to Europe before, and considered Ireland a European country where they happen to speak English with an accent. No need to speak a foreign language. First, I did not always understand when people were speaking to me, and then I assumed that I could haggle and get a discount. In Ireland, the price set is the price set. Lesson learned. True North provides negotiation services, preparing you to enter your negotiations so that they are win/win.

Take the time to comment and there will be reply!

As an attorney I understand the importance of law, especially when it comes to protecting businesses. Contracts are needed and some thought to the creation of a business entity. But there is another level that often goes ignored and is just as important as the legal aspect of your business. Do not forget about insurance protection.

Insurance protection comes in many forms. First, when you are unable to legally contract away your risk, insurance is what fills in the gap. One the most important types of insurance is malpractice. Malpractice insurance provides coverage when you are working in your profession. Should one of your clients have an adverse reaction, then you do not have to pay out-of-pocket. You would have insurance coverage.

Some other the types of insurance you want to think about is property coverage—insuring what you use in your business in case of a loss. There is also liability coverage, separate from malpractice, which has to do with someone injuring themselves on your premises.

We can group together life, accident and health insurance since these are for yourself and not necessarily your business. Should something happen to you and you are the sole practitioner, then life insurance may be a product that can help your beneficiaries after you are gone. Also think about accident or disability insurance—if something happens to your hands, your legs, then how will you be able to work? How will that time off effect your business? Disability coverage could help. Lastly health insurance is good to look into and be informed about coverage and cost.

True North Business Consulting provides legal coaching and thinks about the impact of insurance on your business decisions.

The First Steps. In Marketing

Creating a marketing campaign can be daunting. Most of your focus is on your advertising and what your website will look like. These are important facets—you want to create a brand. But how do you know how to design your promotions if you are unclear on your target audience?

The first step before looking at price, product, place and promotion is to do some marketing research. You need to collect information to see how and what you should offer, along with knowing how much to charge and where to have your business.

There are some great online tools that can be used. Most social media products, like Facebook have surveying tools. When you can connect personally to people to survey this is primary research.

However, sometimes you are not going to get enough information. For example, you may want to know about the income level in the area where you want to place your business. You may also want to know how many businesses similar to yours are in an area. This is important in regards to saturation of a market. Where are you going to get this information?

First, I recommend utilizing the information at census.gov. It is free and will tell you how many people live in the area, plus their median income. This will let you know if people can afford your services in the area. Secondly, use google.com to research other similar businesses. Google will even place them on a map so you can see where your competition is and if you should move to that area.

With this first step completed you can now make business decisions with a knowledge base and familiarity with your market.

You enter into a partnership with your best friend because you have a great idea for a retail store that will sell everything imaginable. You’re excited, you each put some money into the venture and you’re off- leasing space, buying products and opening your establishment

Few months later you feel you are doing all the work while your so-called best friend breezes in and out whenever it is convenient. What are you to do?

You need a partnership agreement. When you create an agreement or contract together then you can decide:

• How many hours will you work?
• When will the store be opened?
• What if someone wants to leave the business?

Legal coaching can help you make these decisions and much more. With a partnership agreement you can be on the same page with your partner and run that successful business without the drama that is sure to happen without an agreement.

Contact True North Business Consulting today.

If you bring someone into your business, give them the hours and times they will work and direct what they will do, then they are an employee. It should be a simple definition, yet many people are called independent contractors when they are really employees.

An example:
The simplest example of an independent contractor is the following: You are an acupuncturist, and you need electrical work done so you hire an electrician to do some work for you. As the acupuncturists you do not have the same skills as an electrician, you do not tell the electrician how to put in a new outlet.
The electrician charges you for the work he has performed when he has finished it using his tools.

You are probably asking- if it is so simple then why the confusion?

I believe it is due to taxes, a fear of unemployment and payroll taxes. Although I am not an accountant I am telling you there is nothing to fear. First, an employee is an expense and you can write off the payroll taxes as a business expense. Secondly, there are payroll services that can setup your payroll automatically, if you do not want to take the bookkeeping steps yourself.

So if you in the same line of work, control what the person does, give them tools, then you have hired an employee, not an independent contractor.

What’s there to gain?

Plenty! You will be complying with the law. I am aware that the IRS will make a determination if you do not know if you are an employee or independent contractor. However, the IRS is only used when a problem has arisen, for example an employee was marked as an independent contractor and now wants to collect unemployment.

But more than that – you will have someone who you can assign work to, those jobs that you do not have the time or skill for, like marketing or administrative work.

You will also be improving your profession by providing jobs in the that profession to show that it can lead to gainful employment.

If you want more information on this matter or sublease agreements then please contact TrueNorth Business Consulting.

If you’ve done some flying, then you’ve heard the request, “Is there a doctor on board?”

I always think they should be more specific because they are looking for someone with medical training, not a Phd.

It really is all in the title.

As a business professional you need to be concerned with your credentials. Many professions have licenses.

  • Attorneys
  • Acupuncturists
  • CPA
  • Massage Therapist

These licenses usually involve requirements of education and examination. But, there are many professions that do not require licenses or have any requirements. So what is that business person supposed to do?

Get involved in your local and national organization. Life Coaches have the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Organizers have the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). These organizations are working on creating standards in these industries for coaches and organizers to meet and exceed. Plus there are opportunities to network and share information.

Pursue educational opportunities to certify your actions. There are many online programs where with an investment of time and money you can be recognized as a leader in your profession.

In working with many of my clients this is a topic that comes up frequently and True North helps them understand the need to provide honest and clear wording in all their materials to protect themselves and educate consumers.

Contact True North Business Consulting at 781-729-0481 today and comment below.