OH PILKADA, WADEN BAKADA


Wah udah lama ndak diari2an nih, begindang. Beberapa hari yang lalu utk pertamaxxx kali nya aku kecelakaan motor yg berjudul tabrakan. Sebelum nya beberapa waktu yg lalu pernah juga hampir tabrakan face to face dengan seekor mobil sehingga sikut tangan ko bakada sekitar 2 mingguan mungkin kerana ambo meloncat spontan dari motor. Nah, kemaren ituww ndak tanggung2. For the first time but I tabrak motor tentara. Lebih memalukan nya kejadian berlangsung di jalan kompleks. Waktu itu I mo ke rumah bpk Rangga. Hujan lah faktor utama kejadian tsb.

Tapi itu motor nya lagi dikendarai bukan sama pak Taa nya, manusia berambut cepak itu baru datang seusai kejadian dipanggil sama si pengendara yg masih semester tiga sebuah universitas tak begito ternama di pinggiran kota Padang. Untung lah aku bisa berpura2 tegar negoisasi nya sehingga the last segala biaya kami bayar fifty fifty. Emang aku ndak apa2 begitu juga motor ku. Aku akhir nya keluarin duit 150 utk biaya perbaikan motor pak Taa tsb sekalin biaya bauuruik si pengendara yang calon dokter tulang tsb. Yah, ini lah berkat berpura2 aku berlagak juga punya backing aparat di belakang. Eamng sih ada om di Lb. Basung dan da On di Mabes AD, tapi kan malah membuat urusan tambah sulit kalo manggil mereka. Apalagi aku ndak punya sim and motor udah mati pajak gethoooo.

Nah, sekarang entah ada apa hubungan nya kito masuk aja ke judul pilkada. Ya hari ini berlangsing pilkada koto Padang. Gw ternyata juga dapat kartu pemilih dan Ama maksa buat ikut milih (Fauzi Bahar - Nah, ini lah backing ku yg "sebener" nya: Lekot Marinir lhooo). Tapi masalah nya TPS berlokasi di Gaduang and you know lahhh ga banget getho lohhh. Akhirnya aku emang ndak pergi. Emang begitulah marisol, tentang hubungan ku dgn masyarakat (sebenar nya terlebih utama pemuda sepermainan ku dulu) ini butuh ruang tersendiri utk dituliskan nanti. Saya sendiri, dengan segala pengetahuan politis and idealisme yg berapi2, sebenar nya juga ndak terlalu peduli tentang kepemimpinan kota ini. Sama2 pesimis jadi nya, padahal jelas2 gw beda dengan kaum2 pragmatis dan tak acuh yg kebanyakan beredar tsb getho lohhhh (wau, gw ngomong gini gara2 ketularan Gina fs kali yee).

Tapi kupikir2 juga emang sebaik nya Fauzi juga yg kupilih (meski faktta nya aku sudah nyata ndak ngikut milih). Seperti adigium, seribu tahun di bawah pemimpin yang otoriter adalah lebih baik daripada keadaan tanpa pemimpin. Nah, ketegasan nya, and keberanian beliau ini lah yg jadi nilai lebih nya buatku (kalo orang lain mungkin menilai "agama" nya meski ustadz salaf eko an suka mencak2). Dari debat di Tv aku emang melihat ada calon lain yg lebih kompeten spt nya, tapi fakta nya aku juga tak mengenal mereka lebih jauh kan? Dan rasa nya berlebihan juga kalo aku menuntut Fauzi untuk menjadi yang ideal (sementara daripada kondisi ideal tsb pun belum terumuskan bagi orang spt ku yang masih gamang dengan "pegangan" ini).

Maka sekali lagi, terlepas dari segala kekurangan nya, sosok Fauzi itu saya kira penting utk menjadi tombak pelawan arus (haha melawan arus, ini lah justru yang membuat ia tak populer, sementara bagi ku nilai melawan arus nya terlihat masih agak kurang justru). Mudah2an ya Alloh pemimpin yang punya nyali seperti ini bisa membuat kota ini lebih baik, dan juga hasil nya ikut merobah sedikit demi sedikit struktur dan sifat relasi sosial rang minang di padang kota pangicuah ini. Jujur aja pilihan profesional lah yg tetap menjadi penilaian ku (karena ketakprofesionalan ini lah akuww tersingkir hihi) dan saya sama sekali ndak peduli dengan soal masih ada hubungan kekerabatan atau tidak. Memang fakta nya dari debat tv tadi kayak nya ada juga calon lain yg bermutu, tapi sekali lagi aku lebih mengenal kompetensi Fauzi.
Entah bagaimana hasil nya, entah apa iya kata orang2 ga ada hubungan nya dengan nasib kito2, yang jelas saya ingin menutup tulisan ini dengan mengutip kata2 dari seorang preman didinya waktu saya beberapa tahun lalu pulang naik bis dari Jawa dan lewat di daerah Dharmasraya -- oya itu tahun 2005 kalo ndak salah pemilihan gubernur -- dan predi tsb ngobrol ama sopir: urang pilkada awak bakada dek ee. Haha kehidupan ku emang masih bakada, tapi bukan berarti ndak peduli sama pilkada. Bukan?
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Starting an Online Business from Scratch

by John

One advantage of doing business online is that you can start from scratch without investing much money. Here is a 27 Step Action Plan to help you get started...

1. List 5 hobbies, interests or areas of expertise. If you want to start a new business, you'd better choose a subject that you like and a subject where you can show expertise. You will have more fun and you will be more competitive.

2. Brainstorm a list of keywords and phrases related to those hobbies and interests. For example, if you are going to sell small airplane collectibles, some possible keywords could be: airplanes, aeronautics, war airplanes, etc.

3. Research those keywords in Wordtracker.com to locate problem statements that have high search results and low competition. Wordtracker.com is a web page that helps you find out how many times your keywords are searched online, how popular your keywords on search engines are. Those keywords may represent problem statements. Wordtracker shows you how many people are buying traffic on those keywords and how much are they paying. You need to find popular statements with low competition.

4. Research those problem statements further to determine if you can develop a product to solve the problem stated. You may use search engines to see how many people are offering products that can help to solve those problems. If you find a popular problem and there are not many people offering solutions online, you've got it!

5. Find or create a product based on previous research for you to sell. Once you found a hungry market, you just need to find the food that your customers want and they will eat from your hands. You may find companies online that can manufacture the products for you or you may find a different way to create the product yourself. If the product is an e-book, you may write it yourself or you may hire someone else to do it.

6. Write a long copy sales letter for that product. The experience of the most important internet marketing gurus reveals that long copies sell much more than short copies. It is also recommendable that you try to sell only one product on your web site. Focus on one product unless the solution you are providing is the offer of a wide catalogue.

7. Register a domain and set up a hosting account. There are many places online where you can register a domain and set up a hosting account in minutes.

8. Register for a merchant account (to set up quickly use PayPal.com). If you don't want to register a merchant account that will allow you to take credit card payments online, go to PayPal.com and sign in. It can be a little bit more expensive, but it is a simple way to take credit card payments online very quickly.

9. Set up a simple web site using an automatic site builder or pay to have someone set it up for you. Do not try to design your own web site unless you are educated on html. Do not waste your time. Hire someone else to do it or buy automatic web site builder software. There are many of these you can buy online.

10. Set up an opt-in form on your web site to collect e-mail addresses. You need to start collecting e-mail addresses for your newsletter. The major part of your business will come from the emails that you will send to your customer list.

11. Build an extensive keyword list based on the initial list of keywords you developed. Use Overture.com. For each keyword on the initial list, Overture can help you find different combinations with other words that you may find interesting. Check the popularity of each term and write down on a spread sheet your final keyword list.

12. Submit those keywords to Overture.com to start driving traffic right away. You need to start driving some traffic immediately in order to test your web site. The best way to do that is to buy this traffic at overture.com

13. Optimize and submit your web site to organic search engines (Google, Altavista, etc...). Once you have proved that your web site works and sells, you will be ready to make the business bigger. It is then time to start working on building free traffic to your site.

14. Continue to test and tweak your web site until target conversion rate is met. Your conversion ratio should be that 1-2% of your visitors should buy from your web site, and 11% should subscribe to your newsletter. Continue testing until you get those stats.

15. Set up an affiliate program on your web site. Affiliate programs can double your business with no additional effort. Others will make the job for you. But you cannot set up an affiliate program before you are sure that your web site can produce results. If your site does not work, you will loose your affiliates and they will never come back to you again.

16. Approach complimentary web sites to sign up as affiliates to promote your product. Get in contact with people that can promote your product and ask them to be your affiliates. Just try to find your first 100 affiliates, and your affiliate list will boom alone.

17. Start publishing a monthly newsletter. You have started collecting e-mail addresses much earlier, but it is not the time to start working the newsletter until you can prove that everything else works.

18. Submit articles to related newsletters and e-zines on a regular basis. In the articles you should always have a link to your site, so that you can get more traffic and you can get more people joining to your newsletter.

19. Continue the development of a content rich web site to further increase search engine rankings. Search engines love content. You must have many web sites which are rich on your keywords and which have links to your main page. A good way to do this is to add as many articles as you can related to your business and link them to your home page.

20. Once keywords have been tested in Overture, roll out in Google Adwords. It works similar to Overture, you bid for traffic. But do not go to Google Adwords first. You must first prove your success with Overture and then go to Google Adwords.

21. Roll out tested keyword list in other major PPCs. When you are sure about your stats, and you know how much money you collect per visitor, you must buy as much traffic as you can get as far as your income per visitor is higher than your bids.

22. Create a viral e-book to generate more leads. Create a free e-book that you can promote and which sells your product or service. Give it for free, and this will bring more traffic to your web site.

23. Have an expert review and critique your web site. Even if your site works, you can always improve. Listen to others and learn from their experiences.

24. Survey your existing customers to find out what other products or services they are looking for. Once you have a big list of customers, use it to find out what other problems do they have. Try to find or create a solution for them and you will boost your sales instantaneously.

25. Create and find back-end products and market them through your e-mail list. Continue finding more products that meet your customer demands and promote them via e-mail.

26. Continue to test and tweak your web site and offers. Nothing is perfect the first time and can always be improved. It is very important that you take action, even if you make mistakes. Learn from your errors and improve your skills.

27. Repeat process to create "Multiple Streams of Income". Once your business is working on automation, then you can start the process again with a new business. Build as many businesses as you can, and reduce your risks. If one business fails, but you have another 5 working businesses, who cares about it?

If you have read up to this point, you are probably asking yourself how much it will cost to get started? The answer is very simple; it depends on how much time and money you have available to invest! If you have a lot of time, you can do everything yourself. On the other hand, if you don't have time, you will have to pay other people for building your website and/or for optimizing your site on search engines.

If you can do nothing else...just launch a web site and start promoting online...

http://www.goarticle.net/article.php/29-08-2007-Starting-an-Online-Business-from-Scratch--.htm

AdSense

Google AdSense - (Bukan) Cara Mudah Mendapatkan Uang di Internet


Google AdSense adalah cara mudah untuk meraup dollar di internet



Benarkah?


Jika Anda termasuk orang” yg masuk ke bisnis AdSense karena mengganggap AdSense adalah cara mudah untuk mendapatkan uang di internet, maka dengan berat hati saya harus mengatakan kalo “Anda salah!“.

Mitos ini tak lebih dari sekedar propaganda yg dilancarkan oleh orang” yg berusaha untuk meraih keuntungan dari para pemula ato orang awam. Dengan menjual e-book misalnya. Ato memberikan pelatihan tidak gratis dng biaya iuran bulanan yg tidak murah. Ato juga menjual software” ato template” yg membuat Anda seolah” bisa ongkang” kaki di depan komputer dan melihat uang masuk dng sendiri.


Kenyataannya?


Sedikit sekali publisher” baru (istilah bagi webmaster yg memasang iklan AdSense di situsnya) yg bisa terus survive dan menghasilkan pendapatan yg signifikan dan sebanding (bahkan lebih) dng usaha yg dilakukannya. Sama seperti hasil survey mengenai wirausaha yg beberapa waktu lalu saya baca. Dari sekian banyak usahawan baru, hanya 20% saja yg bisa bertahan melewati tahun pertama. Persentase ini akan semakin menyusut di setiap tahunnya, dan bukan tidak mungkin di tahun ke-lima nanti hanya tersisa 1-2 usahawan sukses dari angkatan tersebut.


Begitu pula bisnis AdSense.


Saya mengikuti hampir semua forum lokal yg membahas ttg AdSense, dan dari banyak kasus yg ada, kesalahan (baca: kegagalan) berpangkal pada anggapan di atas yg tanpa disadari telah menjadi semacam pedoman “kerja” bagi para publisher pemula.


Content yg didapat dari hasil copy-paste, topik yg terbius oleh iming” high paying keyword, situs/blog yg dibuat secara otomatis dng software, dan sebagainya. Seolah” hanya dng bermodal dengkul seperti itu, dollar akan datang dengan sendirinya.


Yg lebih parah, karena sudah terlanjur termakan oleh mitos, maka publisher” muda ini akan berusaha menggunakan cara apa pun untuk sekedar menggemukkan pundi” dollar di statistik AdSense mereka. Click fraud, force click, dan automated click, hanyalah sebagian kecil dari usaha tidak-halal yg dilakukan.


Hasilnya, meskipun di awal” tampak aman, surat banned pun melayang juga pada akhirnya.


Yah teman, bisnis AdSense pada kenyataannya tidak semudah yg digembor”kan.


Memang, saya tidak akan mengingkari adanya publisher” yg cukup berhasil hanya dng berpangku-tangan saja. Tapi sekali lagi yg perlu diinget, persentase-nya amatlah kecil, jika dibandingkan dng yg gagal.


Bagaimana solusinya?


Yang paling utama tentunya adalah menghilangkan anggapan bahwa bisnis AdSense adalah bisnis yg mudah dan tidak perlu usaha keras. Ingat, semua jenis bisnis pasti beresiko dan butuh usaha. Apa pun itu.


Selanjutnya, langkah” berikut mungkin dapat dijadikan pedoman awal dalam meraih sukses dng AdSense.



  1. Selalu mulai dng membuat situs web dng topik yg Anda kuasai ato Anda suka. Lupakan high paying keyword. Jadikan situs ini sebagai situs utama Anda, ato menurut istilah saya adalah situs inti / poros.

  2. Stl situs selesai, lanjutkan dng melakukan optimasi dari sisi SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

  3. Langkah berikutnya adalah promosi situs. Promosi dpt berupa melakukan submit ke situs” search engine, pemasangan iklan baik online maupun offline, direktori, top list, dan sebagainya. And for God’s sake, hindari SPAM!

  4. Selanjutnya, Anda tinggal menunggu hasilnya sambil terus secara berkala melakukan update (kecuali untuk situs” jenis tertentu yg tidak membutuhkan update dari webmaster).

  5. Berdoa. Kita sudah berusaha, maka jangan lupa untuk berdoa semoga usaha yg kita lakukan tidak sia”.

  6. Jika saatnya sudah tepat, lakukan ekspansi bisnis dng membuat situs baru dan lihat kembali pada langkah 1 di atas.


Bagaimana detilnya? Tunggu artikel selanjutnya :)


Tulisan ini adalah bagian pertama dari entah berapa bagian yg sama sekali belum direncanakan.




Artikel ini ditulis oleh Cosa Aranda dan pertama kali dipublikasikan pada tanggal 8 May 2006. Artikel ini disponsori oleh Resensiku.com, blog yang berisi resensi buku dan film terbaru. Artikel bebas untuk didistribusikan ulang untuk keperluan non-komersil selama mencantumkan nama penulis dan sumber artikel serta tidak merubah isi.

AdSense

Tehnik Dasar AdSense Yang (Mungkin) Anda Belum Tahu


Sexy Google Images


Salah satu pertanyaan yg acap diajukan oleh rekan2 publisher dan seringkali membuat saya bingung adalah mengenai trik2 rahasia di AdSense. Bukannya ragu untuk mempublikasikan rahasia, tapi karena bagi saya tidak ada rahasia satu pun di dalam ber-AdSense. Itu sebabnya saya juga tidak percaya dengan berbagai macam tawaran trik rahasia AdSense yg tersebar di internet, termasuk yg dijual oleh beberapa orang “publisher” Indonesia.

Hampir semua tehnik yg saya implementasikan dalam ber-AdSense-ria berasal atau dikembangkan dari tehnik2 dasar AdSense yg saya yakin sudah menjadi rahasia umum. Selain sering dibahas di forum2, tehnik2 dasar tersebut juga dijabarkan sendiri oleh Google pada Optimations Tips mereka.


Format Ad Units


Secara umum, ad units yg paling menguntungkan adalah yg berbentuk kotak (rectangle), yaitu yg berformat 336×280, 300×250, dan 250×250. Hindari menggunakan format 468×60 karena hampir semua pengguna internet sudah aware bahwa itu adalah iklan.


Jika ingin memasang iklan vertikal, sebaiknya gunakan format 160×600. Yg perlu diingat, hindari memasang iklan vertikal pada situs dengan struktur layout 2 kolom. Sedang untuk layout 3 kolom, letakkan iklan tersebut pada kolom tengah, di antara content utama dengan sidebar yg berisi navigasi situs.


Penempatan Iklan



  1. Pastikan ada setidaknya satu ad units yg terpasang di bagian atas situs atau istilahnya “above the fold“. Dengan kata lain, letakkan iklan di posisi dimana pengunjung tidak perlu menggulung layar untuk melihatnya.

  2. Distribusikan ad units agar tersebar di berbagai lokasi, jangan mengumpulkannya di satu titik saja. Gunanya adalah untuk menghindari kejenuhan pengunjung dan anggapan bahwa situs kita adalah MFA.

  3. Jika content utama situs Anda sedikit (sekitar 3 paragraf atau kurang), cukup letakkan satu ad units saja di antara judul artikel dan isi artikel; atau setelah artikel. Jika content utama cukup banyak, pasang dua buah ad units dan letakkan pada 2 posisi yg disebutkan sebelumnya. Jika artikel benar2 panjang, Anda bisa menambahkan satu buah ad unit lagi di tengah2 artikel. Jika menggunakan platform Wordpress, Anda bisa memanfaatkan trik yg saya berikan beberapa waktu lalu.

  4. Anda juga bisa memasang dua buah ad units meskipun content utama hanya sedikit. Tapi pastikan bahwa posisinya tidak terlalu berdekatan. Salah satu triknya, Anda bisa meletakkan content2 lain setelah artikel utama sebelum memasang ad unit di bawahnya.


Link Units


Banyak publisher yg melupakan keberadaan link units karena dianggap tidak menarik. Padahal dari pengalaman hampir setiap publisher yg menggunakannya, link units terbukti memberikan kontribusi pendapatan yg tidak sedikit, bahkan seringkali lebih besar dibandingkan yg dihasilkan oleh ad units.


Hampir sama dengan ad units, hindari link units berukuran 468×15. Sebisa mungkin pasang link units berformat 768×15 (5 units) dan letakkan di bagian header situs Anda. Ini akan memberi kesan bahwa units tersebut adalah menu navigasi situs, bukan iklan.


AdSense For Search


Dari kebiasaan berinternet, pengunjung akan selalu mencari kotak search di pojok kanan atas situs Anda terlebih dahulu sebelum mencari di tempat lain. Jadi tanpa basa-basi, sebisa mungkin letakkan search box Anda di posisi tersebut. Setidaknya di posisi teratas pada sidebar Anda.


Blended atau Stand-Out


Blended berarti kombinasi warna yg Anda gunakan pada ad units atau link units sesuai dan menyatu dengan layout situs Anda secara keseluruhan. Sebaliknya, Stand-Out berarti penggunaan warna2 yg sengaja berkesan menyolok (atau mencolok yah) sehingga lebih menarik perhatian pengunjung.


Meskipun banyak orang menyarankan untuk menggunakan model blended, tapi dari pengalaman saya pribadi, model stand-out performanya tidak kalah dibandingkan model blended. Jadi untuk hal ini, saya serahkan kepada masing2 publisher untuk memilih mana yg paling baik.


Yg jangan sampai lupa, jika ingin menggunakan model blended, pastikan warna background dan warna border ad units yg dipilih sama dengan warna background situs Anda, sehingga terkesan benar2 menjadi bagian dari content.


Satu tips lagi, link berwarna biru relatif lebih banyak di-klik dibanding warna2 lain. Ini terkait dengan mindset pengunjung internet yg sudah terbentuk sejak dahulu bahwa biru adalah link ke situs lain di internet.


Meskipun sudah terbukti kebenarannya, aturan2 di atas tidak 100% mengikat. Layout situs Anda juga sedikit banyak mempengaruhi apa format layout yg paling tepat untuk digunakan. Banyak2lah bereksperimen dengan masing2 format, baik bentuknya maupun lokasinya, untuk mengetahui mana yg paling cocok untuk situs Anda.

Semoga bermanfaat :)


PS:

(1) Gambar diambil dari http://blogaboutmoneyonline.blogspot.com/2007/02/how-to-maximize-revenue-with-adsense.html



Artikel ini ditulis oleh Cosa Aranda dan pertama kali dipublikasikan pada tanggal 26 February 2007. Artikel ini disponsori oleh Resensiku.com, blog yang berisi resensi buku dan film terbaru. Artikel bebas untuk didistribusikan ulang untuk keperluan non-komersil selama mencantumkan nama penulis dan sumber artikel serta tidak merubah isi.

How to Successfully Navigate Your Business through an Economic Downturn

by Terry H Hill

An economic downturn is a phase of the business cycle in which the economy as a whole is in decline.This phase basically marks the end of the period of growth in the business cycle. Economic downturns are characterized by decreased levels of consumer purchases (especially of durable goods) and, subsequently, reduced levels of production by businesses.

While economic downturns are admittedly difficult, and are formidable obstacles to small businesses that are trying to survive and grow, an economic downturn can open up opportunities. A well-managed company can realize the opportunity to gain market share by taking customers away from their competitors. Resourceful entrepreneurs capture the available opportunities, from an economic downturn, by developing alternate methods of doing business that were never implemented during a prior growth period.



The challenge of successfully navigating your business through an economic downturn lies in the realignment of your business with current economic realities. Specifically, you, as the business owner, need to renew a focus on your core clients/customers, reduce your operating expenses, conserve cash, and manage more proactively, rather than reactively, is paramount.

Here are best practices that will help you to successfully navigate your business through an economic downturn:

Goals:

The primary goal of any business owner is to survive the current economic downturn and to develop a leaner, more cost-effective and more efficient operation. The secondary goal is to grow the business even during this current economic downturn.

Objectives:

• Conserve cash.

• Protect assets.

• Reduce costs.

• Improve efficiencies.

• Grow customer base.

Required Action:

• Do not panic… History shows that economic downturns do not last forever. Remain calm and act in a rational manner as you refocus your attention on resizing your company to the current economic conditions.

• Focus on what YOU can control… Don’t let the media's rhetoric concerning recessions and economic slowdown deter you from achieving business success. It´s a trap! Why? Because the condition of the economy is beyond your control. Surviving economic downturns requires a focus on what you can control, i.e. your relevant business activities.

• Communicate, communicate, and communicate! Beware of the pitfall of trying to do too much on your own. It is a difficult task indeed to survive and to grow your business solely with your own efforts. Solicit ideas and seek the help of other people (your employees, suppliers, lenders, customers, and advisors). Communicate honestly and consistently. Effective two-way communication is the key.

• Negotiate, negotiate, and negotiate! The value of a strong negotiation skill set cannot be overstated. Negotiating better deals and contracts is an absolute must for realigning and resizing your company to the current economic conditions. The key to success is not only knowing how to develop a win-win approach in negotiations with all parties, but also keeping in mind the fact that you want a favorable outcome for yourself too.

Recommended Best Practice Activities:

The Nuts and Bolts… The following list of recommended best practice activities is critical for your business' survival and for its growth during an economic downturn. The actual financial health of your particular business, at the outset of the economic downturn, will dictate the priority and urgency of the implementation of the following best practice activities.

1. Diligently monitor your cash flow: Forecast your cash flow monthly to ensure that expenses and planned expenditures are in line with accounts receivable. Include cash flow statements into your monthly financial reporting. Project cash requirements three-to- six months in advance. The key is to know how to monitor, protect, control, and put cash to work.

2. Carefully convert your inventories: Convert excess, obsolete, and slow-moving inventory items into cash. Consider returning excess and slow-moving items back to the suppliers. Close-out or inventory reduction sales work well to resize your inventory. Also, consider narrowing your product offerings. Well-timed order placement helps to reduce excess inventory levels and occasional material shortages. The key is to reduce the amount of your inventory without losing sales.

3. Timely collection of your accounts receivable: This asset should be converted to cash as quickly as possible. Offer prompt payment discounts to encourage timely payments. Make changes in the terms of sale for slow paying customers (i.e. changing net 30 day terms to COD). Invoicing is an important part of your cash flow management. The first rule of invoicing is to do it as soon as possible after products are shipped and/or after services are delivered. Place an emphasis on reducing billing errors. Most customers delay payments because an invoice had errors, and therefore, will not pay until they receive a corrected copy. Email or fax your invoices to save on mailing time. Post the payments that you have received and make deposits more frequently. The key is to develop an efficient collection system that generates timely payments and one that gives you advance warning of problems.

4. Re-focus your attention on your existing clients/customers: Make customer satisfaction your priority. A regular review of your customers' buying history and frequency of purchases can reveal some interesting facts about your customers' buying habits. Consider signing long-term contracts with your core clients/customers which will add to your security. Offer a discount for upfront cash payments. The key is to do what it takes to keep your current customers loyal.

5. Re-negotiate with your suppliers, lenders, and landlord:

i) Suppliers: Always keep your negotiations on the level of need, saying that your company has reviewed its cost structure and has determined that it needs to lower supplier costs. . Tell the supplier that you value the relationship you have developed, but that you need to receive a cost reduction immediately. Ask your supplier for a lower material price, a longer payment cycle, and the elimination of finance charges. Also, see if you can buy material from them on a consignment basis. In return for their price concessions, be willing to agree to a long-term contract. Explore the idea of bartering as a form of payment.

ii) Lenders: Everything in business finance is negotiable and your relationship with a bank is no exception. The first step to successful renegotiations is to convince your lenders that you can ultimately pay off the renegotiated loan. You must point out to your lenders why it would be in their best interest to agree to a new arrangement. Showing them your business plan and your action plan that includes your cost-savings initiatives, along with "the how" and "the when" of the implementation of your plan is the best way to achieve this goal. Explain to them that you will need their cooperation to insure that you can survive, as well as, grow your business during the economic downturn. Negotiated items include: the rate of interest, the required security to cover the loan, and the beginning date for repayment. A beginning date for repayment could be immediate, within several months or as long as a year. The key is to realize that your lender will work with you, but that frequent and continual communications with them is critical.

iii) Landlord: Meet with your landlord. Explain your need to have them extend the term of your lease at a reduced cost. Make sure you have a clause in the lease agreement that entitles you to have the right to sublet any or all of the leased space.

6. Re-evaluate your staffing requirements: This is a very critical area. Salaries/wages are a major expense of doing business. Therefore, any reduction in the hours worked through work schedule changes, short-term layoffs or permanent layoffs has an immediate cost saving benefit. Most companies ramped up hiring new employees in the good times, only to find that they are currently overstaffed due to slow sales during the economic downturn. In terms of down-sizing your staff, be very careful not to reduce your staff to a level that forces you to skimp on customer service and quality. Consider the use of part-timers or the current trend of outsourcing certain functions to independent contractors.

7. Shop for better insurances rates: Get quotations from other insurance agents for comparable coverage to determine whether or not your present insurance carrier is competitive. Also, consider revising your coverage to reduce premium costs. The key is to have the right balance-to be adequately insured, but not under or over insured.

8. Re-evaluate your advertising: Contrary to the other cost-cutting initiatives, evaluate the possibility of increasing your advertising expenditures. This tactic realizes the advantage of the reduced "noise" and congestion (fewer advertisers) in the marketplace. The downturn period a great opportunity to increase brand awareness and create additional demand for your product/service offerings.

9. Seek the help of outside advisors: The use of an advisory board comprised of your CPA, attorney, and business consultant offers you objectivity and provides you with professional advice and guidance. Their collective experience in working with similar situations in past economic downturns is invaluable.

10. Review your other expenses: Target an across-the-board cost-cutting initiative of 10-15%. Attempt to eliminate unnecessary expenses. Tightening your belt in order to weather the downturn makes practical, financial sense.

Proactively managing your business through an economic downturn is an enormous challenge and is critical for your survival. However, through well-planned initiatives, an economic downturn can create tremendous opportunity for your company to gain greater market share. In order to take advantage of this growth opportunity, you must act quickly to implement the above best business practices to continue realigning and resizing your company to the current economic conditions.

Copyright © 2008 Terry H. Hill

You may reprint this article free of charge in your newsletter, magazine, or on your website, provided that the article is unedited, and that the copyright, author's bio, and contact information below appears with each article. Articles appearing on the web must provide a hyperlink to the author's web site, http://www.legacyai.com

Terry H. Hill is the founder and managing partner of Legacy Associates, Inc, a business consulting and advisory services firm. A veteran chief executive, Terry works directly with business owners of privately held companies on the issues and challenges that they face in each stage of their business life cycle. To find out how he can help you take your business to the next level, visit his site at http://www.legacyai.com

To download a copy of this article, click on this link: http://www.legacyai.com/Article_Downturn.html.


About The Author
An author, speaker, and consultant, Terry H. Hill is the founder and managing partner of Legacy Associates, Inc., a business consulting and advisory services firm based in Sarasota, Florida. A veteran chief executive, Terry works directly with business owners of privately held companies on the issues and challenges that they face in each stage of their business life cycle. Terry is the author of the business desk-reference book, How to Jump Start Your Business. He hosts the Business Insights from Legacy Blog at http://blog.legacyai.com and writes a bi-monthly eNewsletter, "Business Insights from Legacy eZine."

By signing up for Business Insights from Legacy eZine at http://tinyurl.com/2t4fxs you can keep abreast of the latest tips, tactics, and best business practices. You will, also, receive the free eBook, Jump Start Your Knowledge of Business.

Contact Terry by email at http://www.legacyai.com or telephone him at 941-556-1299.

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