Numeracy – Thinking in Numbers

 Managing Your Numbers is Essential for Growth

NumeracyDo you want to do everything you possibly can to ensure the survival and growth of your company? Of course you do. Well, one of the most essential skills that you can bring to your company is understanding, tracking, and using certain numbers.

This numeracy–thinking in numbers–is a vital, vital skill.

Let me explain. In my experience, far too many people feel that they aren’t good at math, or didn’t take accounting, or whatever. Using this as an excuse, they hire someone else to watch the numbers for them. This is two mistakes in one. First, they’re selling themselves short. Anybody can work with numbers, and the kind of number-tracking I’m talking about requires no advanced mathematical training or professional degree. Second, there’s no substitute for you in this process. Nobody else out there is as motivated as you are to get the numbers working on behalf of your business.

Yes, your accountant can prepare your P&L statements, tax returns, and balance sheet and offer certain kinds of advice based on rules-of-thumb and industry norms. (By the way, an accountant with lots of experience working with companies like yours can be a gold mine of comparative information.) But you simply can’t count on quarterly meetings with your accountant. In order to run your company properly, and dramatically reduce your risk of failure, you need to get access to certain numbers quickly, and use those numbers effectively.

Here are the numbers you should have at your fingertips:

  • a snapshot of the company,
  • cash flow statements that are regularly updated,
  • cost analysis of your product(s),
  • break-even analyses, both for the company overall and for each new product.

Here I will only discuss the snapshot of the company. My goal is to get you comfortable with these numbers–by which I don’t simply mean that you’ll be able to generate them, but that you’ll understand them and be able to adapt and use them effectively. In general, my prescription is, Know and love these numbers! Note, I am not saying you have to prepare the snapshot yourself. When you’re small, you can have your accountant or bookkeeper prepare them for you; and if your company grows to the point that you can afford a chief financial officer, then she will take responsibility for preparing the numbers.

I call the following chart the Company Snapshot because I want to convey the idea that it’s quick to read and absorb. I’ve done it weekly because that’s been the interval that’s proven most helpful to me in my businesses. One manufacturing company I’ve worked with does a similar report daily. Depending on the nature of your business, you might find a bi-weekly report adequate, particularly during slow seasons. In certain situations–for example, where your company is temporarily flush with cash–you may decide that a monthly snapshot is adequate. But you can’t make that decision until you understand the snapshot, and how your company performs against that snapshot. So my advice is start weekly, and adjust as necessary.

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Business Incubators Can Be Key to the Success of Qualifying Small Businesses

If you are a start-up company and you qualify, incubators can be a fantastic resource for you in your Bootstrapping pursuit of success. They provide the “help of others” part of Bootstrapping and the “limited resources” component of our initial definition of Bootstrapping (to pursue success with limited resources and with the help of others).

Here is the NBIA (National Business Incubation Association)’s description of Incubators. “Business incubation is a business support process that accelerates the successful development of start-up and fledgling companies by providing entrepreneurs with an array of targeted resources and services. These services are usually developed or orchestrated by incubator management and offered both in the business incubator and through its network of contacts. A business incubator’s main goal is to produce successful firms that will leave the program financially viable and freestanding. These incubator graduates have the potential to create jobs, revitalize neighborhoods, commercialize new technologies, and strengthen local and national economies.”

Critical to the definition of an incubator is the provision of management guidance, technical assistance, and consulting tailored to young growing companies. Incubators usually also provide clients access to appropriate rental space and flexible leases, shared basic business services and equipment, technology support services, and assistance in obtaining the financing necessary for company growth.

Incubators are physical plants that primarily house the offices of start-up companies. They will rent you flexible leases, which can allow you to expand or shrink your space quickly. Rents vary by incubator, but most often are lower than the market rates at the outset. As you grow, you can upgrade to more space. Specifically the Incubator can provide expert advice in areas such as accounting, legal, marketing, and provide more mundane needs such as telephone systems, fax machines, computers, conference rooms, and clean rooms in Tech Incubators. Fees are charged for some of these services and can vary by incubator. Some incubators have no fees but want equity in your company.

Although there are few of them, there is growing interest in purely virtual incubators. They do not have a physical building for clients’ offices. Services are provided on what you might call an outpatient basis and/or online. There are no face-to-face interactions. This virtual model extends incubation services in areas that don’t have a critical mass of entrepreneurs within a reasonable distance of the incubator.

A hybrid incubation program is gaining considerable traction where traditional physical Incubators are extending their services to off site companies. This fits well for home-based businesses and companies that already have their own buildings.

Incubators come in many flavors. Some are only for technology companies. Some are for a specialty technology. Some are mixed use while others are service or manufacturing oriented.

Here are some Incubator facts from NBIA.

  • There are 1115 incubators in the United States.
  • 27% of incubators have investment funds.
  • 61% have links to angel investors.
  • The average stay in an incubator is 33 months.
  • About 6% of North American Incubators are for-profit programs.

NBIA estimates that in 2005, North American incubators assisted more than 27,000 start-up companies that employed more than 100,000 workers and generated annual revenues of more than $17 billion.

Most incubator tenants accept start-ups, as well as existing companies

Besides the above described advantages afforded to incubator tenants, some other positives are:

  • Networking with other entrepreneurs.
  • Getting business from other tenants.
  • Getting assistance from specialists in the community to supplement on-site mentors.
  • Many Incubators are adding insurance for their tenants.

Be forewarned: it is not easy to get accepted into an incubator. You need to meet the criteria of the one to which you are applying. For sure, you need to prepare for your interview with a sound, well thought out business plan. These plans do not have to be lengthy dissertations. Succinct and short are good.

No matter the tediousness of the application process, an incubator acceptance can be a defining moment in your future success.

A study in 1997, funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, found that 87% of incubator graduates were still in business three years after leaving the program. This is considerably higher than start-ups outside of incubators.

To find the incubators near you, go to the NBIA website: www.nbia.org.

About half of the Incubators belong to NBIA. If you do not see one in your area, then contact NBIA. They will advise you of the ones in your locale that may not be their members.

NBIA’s address:

20 E. Circle Drive # 37198

Athens, Ohio 45701-3571

Phone 750-593-4331 Fax 740-593-1996

http://www.nbia.org

Mentors – Free Small Business Consulting

One of the best ways to start and grow a small business is to get expert advice. I’m not referring here to paid consultants, a luxury that most early stage and small companies can’t afford. (When you can afford the right ones, by the way, they can be an excellent investment.) Instead, I’m referring here to getting a mentor of one kind or another.

I did 27 in depth interviews with successful entrepreneurs in writing my book, Low Risk, High Reward. They came in all flavors and sizes. When I asked them what factors they would attribute to their success, the almost unanimous answer was that, early in their career, they had a mentor. Bud Pironti of NSI, a direct response company, was particularly passionate on this subject, and he credits a great deal of his early and continued success to the mentors he’s cultivated over the years. (His wife accuses him, jokingly, of “collecting antique men.”) Bud stresses that you have to work at these relationships. If you’re sincerely humble and solicitous, he says, you’ll get back your investment five times over.

What does this mean? It means simple things like saying thank you to your mentor and following up to let that person know what happened when you pursued that lead he gave you or when you tried out that idea she suggested a few weeks ago.

Where do you find mentors? The answer is, “Lots of places including unexpected ones.” The senior managers of your suppliers may be fertile ground, or perhaps people you’ve worked with in the past, or college professors, or publishers of industry magazines. Entrepreneurs who own their own businesses are ideal mentors. They’re easier to approach than many corporate managers, and they’ve already been through much of what lies in store for you. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and be active. A mentor-in-waiting can be there.

“Surround yourself with people,” entrepreneur Earl Peek advises. “People whom you can call upon for different things. Get someone you can bounce things off of—someone you trust. Get someone with scrapes on his knees, someone who’s lost something. The best advice you can get is from someone who’s been through something bad.”

Again, mentors are everywhere. Think about the people you respect. Can you call upon one of them for advice? Could you build on that relationship over time?

When I talk to young people at business schools who want to start their own companies, I often feel their intense frustration at not having experience and having no way to get the experience they need. (You have to have a job to get a job as the old Catch-22 goes.) But I tell them that youth and inexperience are actually great cards for them to play. There are lots of experienced, successful business people who are more than willing to help young entrepreneurs if they are approached respectfully. They want to help, and they know that in many cases, teachers learn as much as students.

Another mentoring possibility is SCORE, which is a non-profit, founded in 1964 and funded in large part by the Small Business Administration. Go to www.score.org to find a chapter near you and how to access their free advice.

A major source of free advice is a Board of Directors—or the equivalent. I use that qualifier because if you’re a small business, you probably don’t want to incur the cost of directors’ insurance. (This is a must if there are other stockholders involved.) To get around this, call it a “Board of Advisers.” But this name change doesn’t mean you should take the creation of such a board lightly. No, this board doesn’t have the right to get rid of you and hire your successor—as does a formal board of directors—but you should consider it a serious obligation nevertheless. Run it in a formal way, and make sure it deals with the same matters as a traditional board of directors. (In most cases, this means policy-level questions rather than operational issues.) Share the numbers. Put together a binder of relevant materials, perhaps including both historical information and forward-looking material, and prepare an agenda. Then send it to the Board well in advance of the meeting. Don’t think you are too small for a board.

You can solicit retired executives or entrepreneurs, suppliers or anyone else whom you respect and who might have skills or knowledge that would complement your own for board members. Offer to pay their expenses and—when you can afford it—a nominal fee. (If you make products, think free samples!) Do everything necessary to make this work for you. It’s a great discipline, and it can help you focus on tomorrow’s problems. Be prepared to take criticism. Remember: that’s why you invited them.

Depending on where you’re located, there may be other similar resources available to you. If there aren’t, try thinking a little “sideways.” Is there an inventors’  or entrepreneurs’ club in your city? Maybe you’ll find some kindred spirits there—or at least, some original thinking. Find other entrepreneurs to talk to! Keep Learning!

Cash Free Ideas to Beat Competition

Competition for customers in most industries is extremely intense. This is exacerbated if the customer is a large one and your product is not particularly unique or patent protected. Your customers are also in a high pitched battle with their competitors. This can be seen in your everyday life. Look at the competition in cars, retail stores, food stores, homes, computers, music, etc., for your dollar. This extends into the industrial sector and personal services.

Here are some non-cash ideas to help  your small business better compete.

Exclusives. If you have any type of new or unique product and no money to promote it, think of offering a key/large customer an exclusive. The exclusive can be for 30 days to a year with a performance clause for a time specified renewal. When we were in the game business, we would introduce a new game to the leading department store in each major city. We sold them on an exclusive basis for 30 to 60 days in return for their running an ad for our product at their expense. Your exclusive could be narrowed down to a particular channel. For instance, I  know of companies that gave Amazon.com an exclusive for all internet selling in return for them giving special promotional pushes for the product. Examples are running 2-day sales or pop-up ads when customers look at a related product (i.e., a wine game when a customer searches for one of their 9,000 wine books).

You could simply give an exclusive to a large retailer for buying it and putting it in all their stores: Radio Shack with 6,000 plus stores, Costco with 400+ stores, Wal-Mart with 3,000+ stores, etc. Exclusives can get you immediate orders, free ads, better position, earlier pay terms, earlier orders, etc. The result is more credibility, more cash, and brand building at no cost.

Better Service. Contrary to popular opinion, most purchasing is not based on the lowest price. Service is a key component in many buying decisions and can take many forms: shorter turnaround in shipping than competitors, customer training on your product features and how to use or sell it, friendly and knowledgeable people manning your phones, customer friendly website, dealing with problems quickly and fairly, admitting, correcting, and paying for mistakes.

One of the key factors of our success in the watch business was our service and special offers. The business was mature, highly competitive, and a me-too industry. We entered the industry with a unique novelty approach that featured artwork on the face and a rotating disk with art as the second hand. For instance, our most successful watch was a cute cat with a rotating mouse going around the dial that the cat always just missed catching. These watches were easy for competitors to copy. However, we copyrighted each design and consistently earned money from infringers. We offered two elements that propelled our success.

  1. Special exclusive designs for a low minimum of 200 watches with no premium cost to the buyer. This was in contrast to large watch manufacturers who asked for a minimum of 10,000 watches. We accomplished our low minimum by working closely with a small Chinese factory, by using standardized parts, and by our willingness to break even on these orders. We knew the profit would come on the re-orders. Our low minimum allowed us to break into the world of Disney, selling to their retail stores, theme parks, and catalog division. All three wanted exclusive merchandise that could only be bought through them. Our small minimums allowed them to test all their ideas without paying a price for mistakes. We were rewarded with large quantity orders for the watches that tested well. We also rewarded small customers who supported our line with periodic exclusive designs. The result was loyalty and increased business.
  2. Quick turnaround. This was and is increasingly a key component for small business success and survival. It reduces your cash commitment to inventory and likewise for your customer. It also reduces risk. You need to give a lot of attention and thought on how to realize quick turnaround. We analyzed every component used in a watch and the delivery or manufacturing time of each. We discovered the bottleneck in time replenishment was the unique printed dial on each watch. Every other component was easily available and in stock from many suppliers in China. Fortunately for us, the printed dial was a very low cost component. So we took chances and built up inventories of dials on watches we projected would sell well. The dials cost $.05 each; but in our pricing, we figured it at a $ .20 cost. This gave us the cushion for discarding unused dials.

We shipped all our watches from China to a public warehouse in Long Island without boxes, which were printed in the U.S. Air freight is a widely competitive business, particularly between UPS and FedEx. Therefore, we eventually flew watches in for $.17 each. We also discovered that the processing of shipments through customs varied greatly by which city they entered. The net result was that we could get watch reorders within two weeks of the order while our competitors’ lead time was generally two months. This was a tremendous plus for us with our customers and reduced our cash needs.

Special Terms. Cash strapped businesses with high profit margins should seriously consider additional discounts for immediate or quick payment.

Toy manufacturers usually ship most of their products in the fall. To plan production, particularly with overseas manufacturing, they need orders early in the year. So they successfully offer a special early buy discount to their customers.

Many companies offer volume discounts or rebates. They spell out the discount earned at various volume levels. These discounts can be achieved as you reach the level or can be rebated at the end of the year. This encourages your customers to place more of their business with you rather than sharing with other suppliers.

Private Label. Many products lend themselves to be made under the

customer’s label rather than your brand. The disadvantage to you is you don’t build your brand, and margins are usually lower. The advantages are you don’t need to maintain back up inventory, your order lead times are better, and you should get your payments quicker.

Your entire business should always be customer oriented. Special offers are particularly effective in building your relationship with a customer and does not drain your cash.

 

This blog is an excerpt from my book, Bootstrapping 101.

A Perfect Gift for Small Business Entrepreneurs

Bootstrapping 101 Book CoverSmall Business blogs were my first encounter with social media. The goal was to share my hard earned knowledge with existing and wannabe Small Business managers to ease their path to entrepreneurial success. If successful, I was hoping that they would then consider buying my book, Bootstrapping 101. However, I was warned not to sell my book in the blogs. I have followed that advice for some 90 blogs. Now, I would like to blatantly try to sell you on purchasing it for yourself or someone else who fits the bill. Why?

I see the need for this book more than ever, particularly in the current economy with more people than ever trying to realize their dream of having their own business and for existing small business owners working very hard to survive. From all my guest speaking to entrepreneurial classes at MBA classes around the country and from mentoring activities, I see close-up that many key points in this book are not taught or understood. I tried to keep each chapter short and devoid of fluff for easier and quicker reading, yet interspersed with interesting (I hope) stories to illustrate points. You can skip chapters and focus on ones most interesting to you as each stands independently.

I thought the best way to explain the book’s value is to show you this Table of Contents with a sentence or two description of each chapter. Here it is:

INTRODUCTION (includes definition of Bootstrapping)

BARTER

One of the world’s oldest forms of commerce is advocated in its modern form. Barter’s advantages and how it works.

PUBLICITY

Achieved at no or minimal cost, publicity can be more credible than paid advertising which usually is too expensive for start-up and fledgling companies. How to get this publicity.

INTERNET REVOLUTION

This  fast changing, growing, and inexpensive medium can assist small business reach their goals and better compete with large companies.

FREE ADVERTISING

How to get free ads in major media through PI ads.

SELLING

Who should sell, how to sell, and sales’ interaction with other company disciplines. Sales Reps: their importance, how to find and deal with them.

SPECIAL OFFERS TO KEY CUSTOMERS

No-cost strategies to acquire and/or grow key customers and to obtain favorable treatment in areas of importance to you.

MENTORS

Importance of having a good mentor in the ultimate success of a company. Where and how to find and interact with them.

BUSINESS INCUBATORS

Provide a business support process for start-up and fledgling companies that includes a physical home, management guidance, technical assistance, basic business services, and mentoring.

UNIVERSITIES

An untapped asset for small businesses, universities can help you in building your company with no or minimal costs.

RELATIONSHIPS AND TRUST

Finding and developing relationships to advance your business. Better Networking.

PRICING FOR PROFIT

Maximizing your profits and thus increasing cash are discussed in depth through correct pricing. All the elements that should be considered and by whom are explored.

FACTORS

Loan or advance money to a company, regardless of their credit rating. The pros and cons of their use and how to find them.

SUPPLIERS

Can be a valuable extension of your company and an important part of your sustainability and growth. What they can do for you and how you should treat them.

TESTING THE WATERS

Testing the feasibility of your new product or service before you expend valuable resources in its pursuit. This process will also aid in risk reduction.

LICENSING

Can give a company instant credibility and business. Not all licenses require large initial expenditures. Ideas on finding and utilizing them, their advantages, questions to ask in exploring them, and contractual issues to consider.

FRANCHISING

Is a type of business that lies somewhere between buying a business and starting your own. The pros and cons of franchising plus how to find appropriate ones.

CONVERTING FIXED COSTS TO VARIABLE COSTS

Is an effective strategy to reduce overhead, conserve cash, and reduce risks. The different ways to accomplish this.

OUTSOURCING

An important strategy, especially for undercapitalized businesses to grow, reduce risk, and offer more to your customers in terms of quality, value, and support. The negatives  are refuted.

GOVERNMENT HELP

Government agencies to assist start-up and existing small businesses to succeed. They are free and open to everyone. Agencies covered are SBA, SCORE, SBDC, PTAC, U.S. Customs, Department  of  Commerce, MBDA, UBOP, WBC, and U.S. Embassies.

IN PERSPECTIVE

Important factors for entrepreneurial success are explored, covering attitudes, finance, people, and knowledge.

Appendix 1—R&R Harvard Business School Case Study

Bootstrapping tips utilized in case

Appendix 2—Tips for Getting Appointments

Appendix 3— Cash Flow Statement

If you now want to purchase this as a gift for yourself or someone else, we offer it in paperback at $19.95 or as an E-book at $9.59. As we are self-publishing Bootstrapping 101, it is not available in bookstores. It is available on Amazon.com. You can follow that link or visit our website, www.Bootstrapping101.com,which also links directly to the Amazon page.

I always bought business books with the hope that I could get one good actionable idea. I believe you can get at least two here.

Writing Business Plans-Anyone Have a Pencil?

The smartest entrepreneurs plan on growing and are prepared for change.

I have a few words of advice for first-time entrepreneurs, as well as seasoned business owners looking to hit a new stage of growth. My advice is this: write your business plan in pencil. I realize this may be difficult for all you non-golfers, but doing so will illustrate two important principles.

1. Change is inevitable.   

I have little doubt that you (the small business owner) will shortly have to change, amend, modify, scrap, or abandon your original business plan altogether.  One of the attributes of successful entrepreneurs is Flexibility. By writing your business plan in pencil, it forces you to look at change as the only constant.  Make change your friend, embrace it, and work it to your benefit. The reasons why your original plan will need to be changed after your company is actually operational are myriad. It’s likely you under or over-estimated your competition, margins, cash needs, competencies, and suppliers. Or you misjudged market need and size. Every entrepreneur discovers new opportunities that didn’t appear until there was actually a business up and running.

2. We must avoid business plan worship.

When we see documents neatly typed and even praised, we are reluctant to change. Especially for those who attended business schools where the plan took on a larger than life importance. People whose plans got high marks or even worse, won a Business Plan contest, tend to feel their plan is inviolate. They also tend to believe that if they rigorously adhere to the plan, it will yield the riches of their dreams. It Is my hope that the mental image of a pencil will remind you that change is good and will help you reach your goals.

Most small business owners that I know never wrote a business plan. In 16 start-ups, I never wrote one. John Altman, a very successful entrepreneur, founder of six companies, and former professor of Entrepreneurism, never wrote a Business Plan for his start-ups either. Most people who write a business plan do it to raise money or because someone told them that’s what they’re supposed to do. The fact is that a detailed plan is only required if you want to raise money from a bank or venture capitalist. Both will hardly ever offer a loan or invest in early stage companies. So your energies are wasted writing those long and thick plans.

Now don’t get me wrong. I strongly believe in planning, just not in long, voluminous tomes, that will probably go unread. For sole proprietors or a few employees, it can be in your head or- if you must commit it to paper- on a napkin.

If you really want to write a plan, try this. At the start of each year write your goals are for that year and specifically target new areas of distribution and the names of new accounts that you want to sell. Also put on paper the names of current customers with whom you want a deeper relationship and the strategies you’ll employ to do so. This plan should only run one or two pages. I also recommend you write down your accomplishments and shortcomings from the previous year. While you can do this exercise primarily for yourself, I would also share it with members of your team.

As your company gets bigger, written planning documents become paramount. As your company grows, you want to be sure all your employees are on the same page and equipped with the knowledge of how they can contribute to the company goals.

It’s a reversal of commonly accepted logic to suggest you postpone the business plan until you’ve reached a growth spurt. But as John Altman said on this point, “If you’re going to empower the other people in your company, guess what: You’d better give them a map to the highway you’re on! Otherwise, they can’t share that vision in your brain.”

Sales Reps and How They Benefit Small Businesses

I was a national sales rep for 14 years before switching sides and founding or co-founding 16 start-ups, one of which made the INC 500 list three years in a row. . .So, I feel qualified to speak on this subject which I think is misunderstood and not taught at school. This is why I’ve written a comprehensive and practical Guide to Help Sales Reps and Manufacturers understand each other better, to create a positive partnership that will yield more profits for each, and to extend the duration of the partnership.

Too often this relationship is adversarial. It shouldn’t be, as both factions need each other.

Before I discuss the highlights of this Guide, I think I should define what a Sales Rep is.

A manufacturer’s representative, also known as a sales representative, sales agent, a broker in some industries, or simply a rep, is an independent business person who acts as the sales arm for one or more businesses which are comprised of one or more products or services. Most Reps are paid a commission for their sales efforts rather than a salary. Some Reps are permitted to take a draw (or advance) against commissions; others are not. They are responsible for their expenses. The commission can vary greatly–from 2 percent to 20 percent.

Basically Sales Reps are Entrepreneurs in their own business. It is important to understand this as you can’t order them to do something. You need to sell them on your integrity, agenda, company, product, and vision. To do this effectively, you should understand how they think, their strengths and weaknesses, and the environment they work in. This Guide should help you with this to achieve a more productive relationship with them.

 

Here are some of the subjects covered in this Guide:

 

Compensation

Reps are primarily paid on a commission basis although in some industries, such as Pharmaceuticals, they receive a base salary with performance-based bonus. The wide spread of commission rates (2%-20%) is based on a variety of factors explored in the Guide.

 

Who Becomes a Rep?

There is no Sales Rep gene, and they come from all walks of life and choose the profession for different reasons. They want to be their own boss, they see the opportunity to earn a lot of money as there are no ceilings on their compensation, they know that they can choose which 12 hours a day they want to work, etc.

 

Why Work with a Rep?

There are two perspectives on this question: that of the manufacturers and that of the customer who the Rep is selling. Both are covered in detail, but the two main reasons for a manufacturer are they get an experienced salesperson with no fixed cost and quick access to desired customers who are difficult to reach.

The Buyer among many reasons prefers a Sales Rep because they trust them more as they know that the Rep depends on them for a living more than the manufacturer does, and the Rep is more accessible.

 

How to Find and Select a Rep

Before you begin the process, you need to think through what you expect from a specific Rep, the kind of characteristics he or she should have, their customer base, the other lines they carry, and much more. Finding the right Rep is a difficult task and there are numerous approaches. My most productive methods were to ask Buyers on whom the prospective Rep calls. They are a gold mine of valuable information to help you in your quest. They not only can identify the most successful Reps that call on them but lead you to the most promising newcomers that are not on everyone’s radar yet. They will be able to give you more time and passion Second: I checked with other good Reps that we knew. Reps network with each other and know the difference between good and bad ones. Today with the advent of the internet and the comprehensive searches you can do, I discovered a site www.rephunter.net that matches up Sales Reps and Manufacturers to each’s specific needs. They are very professional and worth a look see.

 

Rep and Manufacturer Complaints About Each Other

There is a long list of complaints each party has about the other. I believe it’s very helpful to understand what these are. They can help you to help each other, which will profit everyone. The list of complaints that I enumerate are valid and not readily apparent to the other party. If taken seriously, each party can improve the running and effectiveness of their company. Basically, there is a healthy amount of distrust on both sides. A lot of this stems from many of these easily correctable complaints. Trust is the pillar on which effective relationships are built. With it this Rep/Manufacturer relationship should have a long life.

 

Training Reps

Most manufacturers give short shrift to the training of a new Rep. They make the mistake of sending out catalog sheets or directing them to their website and maybe supply some samples and expect the orders to roll in. . .not a formula for success. Would you train a new full-time hire in so casual a manner? The Guide offers solid and proven ideas on how to accomplish this training.

 

A Tip for Reps

This section offers an idea for Reps on how to solve a problem many Buyers have and in doing so earn themselves more sustainable earnings.

 

Advice for Both Parties

Here we offer key suggestions to both sides on actions and attitudes they should adopt to make this Rep/Mfr partnership more effective (Profits and Fun). We also address how to deal with the problem created periodically by many large customers who tell their buyers to stop dealing with Reps for the mistaken reason that more profits (the Rep’s commissions) will accrue to them. We offer what we did as national reps to solve it.

 

The Future of Reps

There are many outside world trends, including technology that indicates that reps may become extinct. I don’t think so if the parties will work closely and with honesty. . .but it helps to take a step back and think about planning for the future.

 

This Sales Rep/Manufacturers Guide is FREE, and you can get it by going to http://www.bootstrapping101.com/pages/guide.html.

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