Where Do You Get Financing For Your Small Business?

“It takes money to make money.” That saying is somewhat true. To create or expand your business empire you will need some funding to cover your expenses until your income comes in. That may take 2 months or 2 years, and it may require $200 or $200,000. The money can always be found, one way or another, but you need the right method for you.

Money comes from three sources, each with its own benefits, dangers, and costs. You will likely use two, if not all three of these types over the course of your enterprise — and you must understand each to evaluate which will work for you today, tomorrow, and 5 years from now.

#1 Method: Self Financing

When business owners have cash on hand, they typically look to their own bank account first as a simple form of financing. Self financing can be broken down two different ways, each with their own considerations. First, there are two types of self financing: lump-sum and bootstrapping. Second, self-financing can come from you, personally, or can come from your current business that finances another business, venture, service, or product line.

Lump-sum financing is when you have a fixed amount of money from the sale of a business or investment, an inheritance, personal savings, 401(k) cash-out (rarely a good idea) or other amount of cash that can be used to finance a business venture. The amount you have available is relatively fixed and can be viewed and tracked as a one-time investment.

Bootstrapping is constantly used by most small businesses, usually without conscious knowledge. Bootstrapping is where you pay for the new or expanding business through cash flow coming in from another source. The other source may be your day job, your spouse or partner’s job or business, a profitable business or product line, or passive investments (real estate, mutual funds, and bond).

Self-financing works when you need a small amount of money, when you have a large amount of money available, when you are comfortable with risk, or when you need money quickly. It also works when a profitable business can absorb investing in a new venture until the new venture takes off; assuming adequate cash flow projections and tracking has been done to ensure the new venture is not a never-ending profit leach.

#2 Method: Debt Financing

Debt financing is obtaining money that must be paid back to the lender, usually with interest. Similar to self-financing, debt financing may include both using your personal credit as well as the credit and security of the business to obtain a loan or line of credit.

Personal debt financing is readily available to most business owners. If you have a decent credit rating, you can obtain credit cards, a home equity line of credit, or a loan, without informing the bank about your business. You may obtain a loan from a family member or friend who knows about your business venture but who may not demand as rigorous standards as a formal bank.

Businesses may also obtain credit cards, lines of credit, and loans from banks and credit unions. Loans that are secured by the Small Business Administration (SBA) are available through banks providing lines of credit to small businesses that may not be able to obtain credit without the SBA guarantee. Alternative debt financing options such as Prosper.com enable individuals and businesses with lower credit ratings to obtain financing from diverse sources. But these private loans will typically be at interest rates higher than SBA loans.

#3 Method: Equity Financing

Equity financing is giving away ownership (equity) in your business, and potential future profits, in exchange for money (capital) today.

Investors can come in the form of silent partners, family, friends, or private investors who speculate in new companies. Angel Funding, wealthy individuals and groups who invest in small, high growth companies, typically buy stakes in companies for a few hundred thousand dollars. Venture Capital firms and Investment Banks typically are looking for companies where they will invest millions of dollars.

If you are planning to seek private investors, Angel Funding, Investment Banks, or Venture Capital, you will likely need more sophisticated financial reporting than is covered in this book. You will also need more lawyers and accountants.

How do you decide which type of financing to pursue?

Most likely, one type of financing is obviously not right for you now. You will probably use two or even all three types of financing for any one business, and your choice may change over the life of the business as you expand and add new ventures. You may be able to weed out certain choices because they are not available — you don’t have cash or another income source (self), you don’t have a good personal credit rating (debt), or your business has no exit plan (equity).

For each decision, you must track the benefits (Return on Investment), and the costs (interest, fees, and lost profits) of each type of financing. As your business grows, you may need to add or switch financing as prior financing methods become too expensive, are exhausted, or do not produce a sufficient return.

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How to Ensure Your Business Survives – When Others Don’t

When you start your own business, there’s no guarantee that your business will survive. Nearly 50% of all small businesses fail within the first 2 years. The 2 main reasons for businesses failing is the lack of a proper Business Plan and the lack of capital.

Before you go overboard getting into debt to finance your business you need to have a strong Business Plan detailing your strategies on how you are going to survive and thrive in those first few years.

Here are some ideas to consider from businesses that have thrived for 5 years or more and what they have in common.

YOUR IDEA:

1. All successful businesses start with an idea. Does your idea stand out from the rest? How do you know if you have a good idea?

Does your idea provide a solution to a particular problem?
Does your idea satisfy a need or want? (what people want or need are two different things)
Does your idea create an opportunity?
Most successful businesses have found a solution to fixing problems (real or perceived) or have products or services that bring enjoyment to their customers. Successful ideas should create a repeat need for a product or service in your target market.

YOUR MARKET:

2. If you can answer yes to the following questions then your chances of survival are better than most.

Is there a ready market for your product or service? (It’s easier to fill a need than it is to try to create a new market)
Are your products or services affordable for your target market? (it doesn’t matter how good your products or services are if your potential clients can’t afford them, they won’t sell)
Are your products or services valuable to your potential clients? (If they want it but don’t believe the value is there they won’t buy it)
YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND ABILITY:

Do you have the knowledge and competency to provide the products and services you want to sell? If not, do you have partners or employees that can fill the gap on the things you are not able to do or don’t like to do? Do you have sufficient manpower?
Do you have a consistent supply source for your product? or do you have the ability to provide the service you are offering on an ongoing long term basis to your target market?
Do you have a USP (Unique selling proposition) that will help you maintain a competitive edge?
Do you have a Brand that properly represents you and your product and is consistent throughout your Business so it is memorable and separates you from your competition?
You need to develop a strong Business Plan. The idea is that your business plan should be your ongoing road map to use on your business to be changed and tweaked as you go along so you always know were you are and were you going. A Business Plan is not just “my idea is good so I deserve to get funding” – that just doesn’t float with banks or investors.

Make sure you use your Business Plan, don’t waste time creating it to file it away in a file cabinet. Your business plan will help keep you on course to growth and success and keep you on track with your goals.

Next you need to ensure you get sufficient funding. Having enough capital to keep your business afloat is vital to the survival of your business. Many small business entrepreneurs tend to underestimate how much capital they will need and forget altogether to allow for cash flow. The first few months of your business are likely to be cash strapped as you develop and grow your market and you need to ensure you have enough funds to survive during that time. Be realistic with your figures and allow a cushion for unexpected expenses.

In addition to the usual sources of funding – banks, investors, family etc. here are some resources you might be able to tap into for grants or loans.

Your local Small Business Associations
Small Business Development Centers
Economic Development Centers
These resources can usually point you in the right direction even if they cannot assist you directly.

Model other successful businesses – what do you like about them? what do you think they are doing that makes them successful?

No one can do it alone, even with great skills and abilities no-one does everything well. You likely know your own strengths and weaknesses already. Rather than ignoring them and having them affect your business find a Mentor who can advise and help you in your weak areas.

If you build a good business plan designed to succeed, you can create a strong business to pass onto future generations, and a business that other entrepreneurs will look to as model for their businesses.

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Your Cat’s Health and Well Being

If you haven’t had the pleasure of owning a pet cat before, you may not know that you can run into some cat health problems. Some can be prevented easily, while others begin genetically.

One of the most common problems with your cat’s health and well being is the terrible hairball. Cats keep themselves clean by cleaning their fur with their tongues. Loose hair is removed and swallowed. Sometimes, instead of passing through the cat’s digestive tract, the hair forms into a ball in the cat’s stomach. Cats with hairballs develop a hacking cough, gradually expelling the hairball. Hairball prevention is easy: groom your cat daily to help remove the loose hair. You can also get cat food that helps prevent hairballs. If you look at your local stores, you may also find cat treats that can help with this problem.

Urinary tract infections are another feline health problem. This infection happens more frequently in un-neutered male cats, though it is seen occasionally in females as well. If your cat has suddenly developed an aversion to his litter box, it could be due to a urinary tract infection. Another clue is that your cat’s urine will smell unusually strong if he has an infection. A trip to the veterinarian is the cure. He will also recommend cat foods that may help prevent the infection from coming back.

Cats are prone to several viruses as well that can be very dangerous to their health and well being: Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia Virus (FLV) are the most common.

FIP is a cousin to the Corona virus, and is a very serious condition as there is no known treatment. The problem lies in the test. Cats that test positive for FIP may not have it, since Corona virus gives the same result on the test. A vaccine for FIP does exist, but many veterinarians do not believe it is very effective. Fortunately, this disease is not as simple to contract as some of the others.

FIV, also known as cat AIDS, isn’t necessarily fatal. Some pet owners are afraid that they can catch HIV from an FIV-positive cat, but it is not possible.

FLV is easily preventable through vaccination if the cat has not been exposed to the virus yet. While FLV is not always immediately fatal, once this disease has been contracted, the cat usually does not live for long. If you have a pet with FLV, do not bring other cats into your household. It is contagious.

Many cats also become a host for worms. Hookworms, tapeworms and roundworms are the most common parasites that infect pet cats. Sometimes, they can also get heart worms. Symptoms that may indicate worms is weight loss, with the inability to gain it back; flea infestation; or white specks in the stool that looks like rice. If you notice any of these signs, take your cat to the vet for a test. Worms are easily gotten rid of with a few doses of worm medication. If left untreated, the cat can waste away and die.

If your cat likes to play outdoors, examine him frequently for ticks. If you find one on your cat and he has been moving more slowly than usual or acting lethargic or as if he is in pain, he may need to be tested for Lyme Disease. Your veterinarian can take care of this test and the treatment. Lyme Disease is given to both people and animals by ticks.

Your cat’s health and well being is very important if you want to have many happy years with him or her. Caring for your cat properly is easy with a few regular trips to the vet.

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Train For Finance and Banking Online

Every business and organization that earns a profit has to think about their financial and banking needs. These aspects of a business need qualified individuals who understand monetary funds and how to manage those funds in a bank. Online accredited colleges and universities offer training in finance and banking that teach students how to work for an organization in this capacity.

Professionals use their knowledge by making suggestions to a business to help them grow financially. The professional’s job is to aid their client in sound financial decisions in order to help them use their resources to obtain monetary goals. A professional who understands banking is a strong asset to a business because they keep track of fund activity by making sure it is recorded and handled properly. Prospective students can learn how to perform these main duties through numerous online programs. Students can choose to study finance and banking in a combination program or choose a degree program specifically geared towards one.

Students need to decide prior to enrolling in a degree program if they want to work for finance, banking, or both. This will help a student know if they need to find a combined degree program or find a specific degree program. A finance degree program will provide students with the knowledge to analyze and implement financial procedures in a managerial position. The minimum requirement for a career in the field is a bachelor degree. In a bachelor degree students can expect to complete the program in four years. Curriculum will include general education and degree specific education. The finance part of the program could include courses on risk management, corporate finance, statistical analysis, critical thinking, and more. Students will be able to understand the procedures and principles of financial markets and the distribution of funds in every sector of an organization.

A bachelor degree program in banking is a financial business degree with its focus on banking. The degree program prepares students to work in various careers inside a bank. Courses will center on teaching a student about the many areas of financial institutions. Specific courses may include corporate finance, banking law, international trade law, and global economy. Students will learn about all bank practices, credit, and lending. Career options will allow students to become credit analyzers, loan processing managers, and more. Gaining a degree in banking significantly increases an individual’s annual income within the industry.

A combined approach will prepare students by giving them a strong foundation in management, corporate finance, and the global market. Students will examine every area of the industry through courses that include investments, capital raising strategies, corporate operations, and mergers. A financial and managerial accounting course will teach students how to function as a manager and work with employees within the procedures of accounting. Students will explore topics like financial statements and cost analysis. A combined degree will allow students to work in all areas of both industries.

Whether a student decides on a specific or combined education approach, numerous career opportunities will be open to them. Online schooling in finance and banking will help students enter their desired career upon completion of an accredited program. Seek an online college or university today that offers the degree you need to start an exciting new career.

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Poverty Alleviation – The Micro Finance Banking Approach

Micro Finance Banking is extension of standard banking facilities to those doing small scale businesses, those living in poverty and those inhabiting rural areas without demanding collateral.

In finance, collateral placement is a visible barrier inhibiting people from accessing funds from concerned institutions. This hinders the enterprising exploits of those living at poverty levels and small scale business people who in most cases do not have properties that can stand as collateral.

Micro Financing is the only available option for individuals at such level to kick start their business ideas.

It sounds out of place for the average financially educated to extend loans without collateral but for those at the bottom of the pyramid, the poor and semi poor, it is sine qua non. Grading their credit ratings and abilities will never be a herculean task as most of them live in the same community and are totally accessible. Most often, the women who form the fulcrum of the communities are best channels of fund distribution.

These people who obtained such small loans are eager to implement their business ideas and maintain their source of funding as there are lesser options available to them. In most cases, the loans demanded by these people are small in nature, thus they can easily repay its interest payments and that of the capital.

For individuals and institutions offering such services, it will be an added advantage if more education and counseling is offered to their respective clients to improve and fortify their financial knowledge.

Micro credits facilities aimed at empowering the poor especially the women and those domiciled in rural areas is pivotal to creation of small scale industries thereby jump-starting the economy while pulling the machinery of industrialization. When those living at poverty level are empowered, poverty is alleviated if not eradicated.

Those involved in provision of these brand of services do not operate like or compete with conventional banks. This is solely because they are totally at variance in their aim, objectives and modus oparandi.

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Reasons To Have A Good Business Strategy

A business strategy is basically a documented plan mentioning how a company is setting out to reach to its business goals. Therefore, these strategies include different types of main principles, which outline the ways through which the companies can reach to their goals. For instance, the good business strategies define the ways to look at the expectations and requirements of clients, the ways to deal with the competitors and these also check the sustainability and the long-term growth of the companies.

A good business plan is also essential in guiding channels and resources, making decisions, defining directions and setting goals. Due to that reason, building strategic plans is well worth of the time. With the help of right strategies, businesses can meet with the opportunities and ongoing challenges.

There are actually many types of business strategies available, which can be used by both new and already established businesses to have healthy competition in the market. Most of the successful businesses generally have a history of functional and good strategies, which are set and followed strictly. Thus, it is necessary that once the strategies are drawn and enacted, the measures must be followed and put into that system.

Another big reason why having good strategies is necessary is that these offer the businesses the required time to get the sense about capabilities, how those are actually performing and whether the capabilities can actually help the businesses to grow.

Here are some other reasons why it is necessary to have good strategies for businesses:

A well defined strategy provides a guide on how a business is actually performing internally. Besides, this also defines how a company performs against the competition and the things that the company needs to stay relevant in the future.

A good business strategy is capable of creating a direction and a vision for the entire company. Actually, it is necessary for every person in a company to have some clear goals and to follow the mission or direction of the company. Good business strategies can offer these visions and can prevent the company people from losing sight of the aims of the companies.

The business strategies can also find the future opportunities and trends of the businesses. These can look at all the broader changes in the market like as social, political or technological changes and the consumer changes. Besides, these strategies can also develop the tactics so that the businesses can change and develop to suit to all the future changes.

So, it can be said that with good business strategies, the businesses can enjoy greater profits and brighter track records.

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Explore Asset And Sales Finance Solutions With Your Bank

If you’re starting up a business, it can be hard to grasp the terminology you need in order to speak to your bank about funds; when it comes to discussing asset and sales finance, for instance, things can get tricky. It is, firstly, important to know what asset and sales finance is: a service through which banks help businesses obtain a range of equipment, including plant and machinery, commercial vehicles, IT equipment, office furniture and cars. Essentially, sales financing will help you get quick access to cash, while asset financing will help fund business equipment.

Many banks offer several cost-effective and expedient sales financing solutions; and with such solutions, businesses can find enough working capital to be able to operate. Two sales financing solutions are factoring and invoice discounting. With factoring (recourse and non-recourse),up to 95% of the value of approved invoices can be advanced within a given period of time with the balance being paid on receipt. And while invoice discounting (also recourse and non-recourse) functions in a similar way, there is a crucial difference between the two: in factoring, the client’s customers are made aware of the bank’s involvement with the business; in invoice discounting they are not.

Another method of sales financing used by many banks is stock finance; this allows you to release as much as 60% of the funds tied up in eligible stock through a completely flexible system. This will release finance that is usually not available for working capital needs.

Asset financing solutions will help you gain assets in an economical way, without eating into your cash reserves. As with sales financing, banks will often offer a range of asset finance solutions to its business customers. Hire Purchase, for example, can help you acquire the asset you need right away, but payments can be spread across the life of the asset in question. This may also allow you to keep the asset at the end of your term for a particular fee. Operating Lease asset finance will allow you to benefit from a particular asset, while the bank itself takes on the risk of losing its value; the rental and return conditions for the asset are fixed at the outset.

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Occupational Health – Workplace Health Management

Workplace Health Management (WHM) There are four key components of workplace health management:

Occupational Health and Safety
Workplace Health Promotion
Social and lifestyle determinants of health
Environmental Health Management

In the past policy was frequently driven solely by compliance with legislation. In the new approach to workplace health management, policy development is driven by both legislative requirements and by health targets set on a voluntary basis by the working community within each industry. In order to be effective Workplace Health Management needs to be based on knowledge, experience and practice accumulated in three disciplines: occupational health, workplace health promotion and environmental health. It is important to see WHM as a process not only for continuous improvement and health gain within the company, but also as framework for involvement between various agencies in the community. It offers a platform for co-operation between the local authorities and business leaders on community development through the improvement of public and environmental health.

The Healthy Workplace setting – a cornerstone of the Community Action Plan.

The Luxembourg Declaration of the European Union Network for Workplace Health Promotion defined WHP as the combined effort of employers, employees and society to improve the health and well-being of people at work

This can be achieved through a combination of:

Improving the work organization and the working environment
Promoting active participation of employees in health activities
Encouraging personal development

Workplace health promotion is seen in the EU network Luxembourg Declaration as a modern corporate strategy which aims at preventing ill-health at work and enhancing health promoting potential and well-being in the workforce. Documented benefits for workplace programs include decreased absenteeism, reduced cardiovascular risk, reduced health care claims, decreased staff turnover, decreased musculoskeletal injuries, increased productivity, increased organizational effectiveness and the potential of a return on investment.

However, many of these improvements require the sustained involvement of employees, employers and society in the activities required to make a difference. This is achieved through the empowerment of employees enabling them to make decisions about their own health. Occupational Health Advisors (OHA) are well placed to carry out needs assessment for health promotion initiatives with the working populations they serve, to prioritize these initiatives alongside other occupational health and safety initiatives which may be underway, and to coordinate the activities at the enterprise level to ensure that initiatives which are planned are delivered. In the past occupational health services have been involved in the assessment of fitness to work and in assessing levels of disability for insurance purposes for many years.

The concept of maintaining working ability, in the otherwise healthy working population, has been developed by some innovative occupational health services. In some cases these efforts have been developed in response to the growing challenge caused by the aging workforce and the ever-increasing cost of social security. OHA’s have often been at the forefront of these developments.

There is a need to develop further the focus of all occupational health services to include efforts to maintain work ability and to prevent non-occupational workplace preventable conditions by interventions at the workplace. This will require some occupational health services to become more pro-actively involved in workplace health promotion, without reducing the attention paid to preventing occupational accidents and diseases. OHA’s, with their close contact with employees, sometimes over many years, are in a good position to plan, deliver and evaluate health promotion and maintenance of work ability interventions at the workplace.

Health promotion at work has grown in importance over the last decade as employers and employees recognize the respective benefits. Working people spend about half of their non-sleeping day at work and this provides an ideal opportunity for employees to share and receive various health messages and for employers to create healthy working environments. The scope of health promotion depends upon the needs of each group.

Some of the most common health promotion activities are smoking reducing activities, healthy nutrition or physical exercise programs, prevention and abatement of drug and alcohol abuse.

However, health promotion may also be directed towards other social, cultural and environmental health determinants, if the people within the company consider that these factors are important for the improvement of their health, well-being and quality of life. In this case factors such as improving work organization, motivation, reducing stress and burnout, introducing flexible working hours, personal development plans and career enhancement may also help to contribute to overall health and well-being of the working community.

The Healthy Community setting In addition to occupational health and workplace health promotion there is also another important aspect to Workplace Health Management. It is related to the impact that each company may have on the surrounding ambient environment, and through pollutants or products or services provided to others, its impact on distant environments. Remember how far the effects of the Chernobyl Nuclear accident in 1986 affected whole neighbouring countries.

Although the environmental health impact of companies is controlled by different legislation to that which applies to Health and Safety at work, there is a strong relationship between safeguarding the working environment, improving work organization and working culture within the company, and its approach to environmental health management.

Many leading companies already combine occupational health and safety with environmental health management to optimally use the available human resources within the company and to avoid duplication of effort. Occupational health nurses can make a contribution towards environmental health management, particularly in those companies that do not employ environmental health specialists.

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Business Strategy For Challenging Times

The importance of strategy to steer organizations during uncertain times in unchartered territories could not be overemphasized and the current crisis proves it. The role of business leaders is fundamental in strategy development and execution and key contributor to a successful strategy implementation.

Whilst one of the main roles of business leaders is to set and communicate vision, mission and strategic objectives, many fail in the execution process as they get sucked into the details of day to day tactics. With the “big-picture” view, the leadership is able to view the ever changing environment and decide on how the organization needs to respond and to steer the organization towards the longer-term objectives. Whilst the strategic vision remains the same, the route to reach the destination might follow different tactics and game plans.

The word strategy is attributed to the military as its origin was originally derived from the Greek word for “army”. It describes a plan of action developed to realize a specific goal, bearing in mind the difference between strategy and tactics. Tactics is generally concerned with the manner an engagement is conducted, whilst strategy deals with how various engagements are interconnected.

Strategy is all about clarity, and if the strategy is not simple, clear and well-understood, it will not be accomplished. It represents the organization’s main direction and prime focus and defines the way to get there. It can only be executed if everyone involved knows what is expected of them and their purpose is totally aligned with its direction.

In business, the term strategy is frequently badly and inconsistently defined. Business people involved in formulating the strategy understand it well, whilst the majority others do not, particularly if they are not engaged in its development or strategy is not communicated down to them. Others mix strategy with vision and tactics.

Strategy is a real differentiator, often seen as the secret for long-term success and one of the leadership characteristics. It unites the whole workforce, nurtures and develops opportunities and ensures endurance during crises or tough times.

Although strategy represents a solid and firm direction, it should not be built into stone. Instead, it should be adaptable to reflect changes in the environment, whether it is politically, economically, socially, technologically or legally related. Business leaders must have clear business goals and be flexible and brave to continuously recalibrate their strategy. When times are tough and visibility is not so clear, leaders must have the buoyancy to be pragmatic and adaptable, as in the mist of chaos comes huge opportunities.

Unsuccessful companies are those which do not embrace new ideas, broaden their thinking or are totally unaware of changes in their environment. Changing circumstances may necessitate a change in direction and stubbornness and fixed ideas can frequently be the enemy of business leaders.

Business strategy is all about developing a viable plan for sustained business growth, possibly diversifying into new markets or cross selling to existing customers. Adequately qualified senior executives tend to have clear views of what their business strategy means. Good strategies are not glossy documents produced to be stacked on shelves to collect dust, but rather to be communicated, executed and monitored.

Leaders are expected to champion and drive the process of strategy execution by putting the strategy into action; after all the strategy does not mean anything unless it is fully communicated throughout the organization.

The strategy can be viewed as the story of how a business plans to develop in the next few years; investments to make, markets to address, products to develop, territories to compete in, partnerships and alliances, etc. A good strategy is simple, clear, credible, motivating and reflects the distinctive features of the business. Whilst strategies may end up looking the same, the brands and the culture of the organizations will be different.

The real test to establish whether a strategy is good or not can be seen during difficult times e.g. the current global credit crunch, as business leaders are tempted under such conditions to lose their sense of direction and seek ways to cut costs and maintain margins. The leadership’s thinking should be focused mainly on the strategy and nothing else. Companies are encouraged to continually health-check their strategy against various potential scenarios.

During changes in the working environment or tough times, the leadership should review their business strategy to assess whether it is still prudent and acceptable to adopt a more flexible approach to the execution process, for example accelerate making an investment or divesting an existing business segment. Business leaders should continuously be working on the company’s strategy, since the business environment is changing all the time with lots of threats and lots of emerging opportunities. Therefore, business leaders need to be regularly monitoring their business environment and taking a view of where the market is headed and to conduct fitness-check of their strategy.

Business strategies succeed only when they are well-developed and formulated, well communicated to the whole workforce, business functions are aligned to the corporate strategic objectives, incentives are aligned with individuals’ performance, and most importantly when the leadership is involved in the strategy formulation and execution process.

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