Patrick Mackaronis Presents: Building Your Online Space

Website

The following is a guest post from Brabble Director of Business Development Patrick Mackaronis. Patrick is a champion in the online realm. 

In this article, I’ll continue to discuss the general method you’ll need to use when building your web site. Remember–all businesses are unique, so don’t be afraid to adapt the method to suit your particular needs.

Once you finish planning your web site, you are ready to start building. These are the things you’ll need to do:

  1. Work out your design concept & build template.
  2. Scan/create/edit graphics.
  3. Input code, text, and graphics into your template.
  4. Upload your site.
  5. Test your site.

—-Your design concept

The way your site appears to first-time and continuing users is important to the overall impression you’ll make on your site’s visitors. When I am working on a web site, I usually start out “on paper” by sketching out different designs. Remember to keep in mind that you’ll need to include navigation buttons/links, room for headers and footers, room for the text, as well as any additional features you decide you might need. Once you have figured out the layout for your homepage, you are ready to start building!

One tip to remember when considering your design: Not all web browsers are equal. Although the most common web browsers (Netscape Communicator & MS Explorer) have been consistently updated by their respective companies, not everyone uses the most up-to-date versions. This means that not everyone’s web browser will accommodate JavaScript, frames, and other features that you might want to include on your web site. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should avoid features like frames or JavaScript in your site. Just be aware of some users’ browser limitations.

—-Your site’s graphics

Part of the beauty of the web is that you can combine text and graphics in attractive and useful ways. The graphics you use can make or break your site, so create them carefully. Some tips to consider when creating graphics:

** The size and resolution of computer screens varies, and you won’t be able to build a single page to suit everyone’s needs. The best you can do is to try to reach the greatest common denominator. My suggestion is to work to build your graphics to accommodate an 800×600 monitor.

** Most people surf the web over a modem–56K/V.90 being the fastest modems available. While this speed allows for a faster connection than was available only a few years ago, it still takes a long time for large files (like graphics) to download. To minimize this problem, make sure you set your graphics’ resolutions at 72 dpi (this is the highest that most computer monitors are able to resolve) to keep the size of those graphics files to a minimum.

Terminating Jailed Employees: Dealing With The Worst Case Scenario of Having a Staff Member Incarc

jailed

It’s the kind of phone call many managers dread: a staff member for whom they are responsible for is in jail. The most immediate response is normally, “We have to let them go.” But terminating jailed employees isn’t as easy the immediate call-to-action most managers feel. As Chicago-based attorney Margaret Angelucci stated in Privacy and Security Law (The Bureau of National Affairs), “employers have a “particularly high” standard of proof before dismissing an employee for off-duty activity”.

Herein lies the problem: in most states, an employer cannot terminate jailed employees merely because they are incarcerated – unless the charges specifically relate to the job they are performing in the workplace (such as an Account Executive under investigation for company fraud or a retail staff member caught shoplifting while on duty).

Does the employer have any rights in terminating jailed employees? They do, but it really depends on where the company is located geographically. Some states allow for more measures than others, so it’s wise to contact the local government regulatory bodies before moving forward. In most cases, however, there are several things you can do to protect your company’s assets in the meantime.

Keep Excellent Records

First and foremost, start keeping an up-to-the-minute log of the accounts and events that transpire from the moment you received word the employee was jailed. If there is any written documentation to support their incarceration, provide it to your HR department immediately. Where there isn’t, confirm what you are able to on the phone and take note of who you spoke to when, where and why regarding the situation. This way if you do end someone’s employment, you can do so with quantitative evidence backing you up that the terminated jailed employees were unable to perform their job duties.

Terminating Jailed Employees for Absenteeism

Angelucci suggested in the aforementioned article that terminating jailed employees is possible, as long as the focus is on the work missed and not the jail time. This is a creative yet effective method of ensuring that whatever the employees situation is, they are not being discriminated against, since any employee that doesn’t show up for an extended period of time cannot expect to keep their job under any circumstances. Yet not all unions support this methodology. Therefore, check out the legality of terminating jailed employees based on their attendance records before taking action.

Tripplett, M. R. Despite few limits, lawyers tell employers of privacy and off-duty conduct. Privacy and Security Law, 5, No 13, Retrieved from http://subscript.bna.com/SAMPLES/pvl.nsf/4866a14be3b6f56685256ba3004dcb8b/e2de079a6e336da58525713c005765fa?OpenDocument

Open a Church Daycare & Preschool

church

Churches provide a large space for community members to open a daycare and preschool. Daycares typically care for children before enrolling in formal school. A preschool focuses on school readiness activities for children during the early years. The demand for childcare workers is expected to increase 11 percent by the year 2018, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Preparing to Open the Daycare

Determine the square footage of the church space the daycare will occupy. Then, contact the state department of licensing to determine how many children can be accommodated in that space. Also, consider the area’s proximity to an outdoor play area for children.

Also, purchase equipment for the daycare and preschool. Arts and crafts supplies, puzzles and a variety of stimulating toys should be offered. Also, purchase a crib for each young toddler or infant. Nap mats are appropriate for preschool age children. Ask the parent of each child to provide their own blankets and pillows and launder the linens weekly.

If your church needs help funding start-up costs, get in contact with the Small Business Administration. They can put you in touch with local lenders who offer small business loans.

Certification and Licensure

Enroll staff in CPR and first aid courses. The American Red Cross offers these courses to childcare professionals. Keep a certification of competition for each employee who completes the course. Some states require this documentation to accompany application materials for licensure.


Safety proof all rooms of the daycare and preschool. This includes covering electrical outlets with protectors and installing safety gates for smaller children. Also, store chemicals and other harmful substances in locked cabinets (out of children’s reach). Most states require an inspection of daycares and preschools. Contact the state ahead of time to request a safety checklist. This will assist with preparation efforts. Purchase fire extinguishers to place throughout the childcare facility.

Church childcares also need to get licensed with their state. After preparing the daycare area, contact the local state department of licensing and request application materials. Expect to fill out a background check for every person employed in the daycare and preschool facility. Some states require a schematic of the childcare facility be submitted (detailing the layout of the childcare space). Some states also require that the owner of the daycare attend a state sponsored course covering local laws and regulations.

Creating an emergency evacuation plan is also important. Some states require this. The plan should cover where children and staff exit the building and meet-up in case of an emergency. Once your daycare and preschool is operating, regular “drills” should be scheduled to practice this plan.

MarketChurch Childcare Services

Market childcare and preschool services to local families. If your church has a newsletter, include information. Some churches also have email lists which could be helpful in advertising the daycare opening. Post flyers at community boards near the center as well. After time, the word will spread about services and less time will be spent on marketing activities.

Example of a Karachi Entrepreneur INTRODUCTION

Hotel

In a Metropolitan city like Karachi good quality and low cost hotels are essential. Keeping this in mind, Mr. Zeeshan Pervaiz struck upon the idea of building Hotel Sky Towers. Hotel Sky Towers is conveniently located in the center of the city that is Saddar. It is twenty minutes distance from the Quaid-e-Azam International Airport. It is a nine story building and has ninety nine rooms which have been categorized as Standard, Deluxe, Super Deluxe and Executive rooms. The rent charged varies from Rs. 700 to Rs. 2000 per night depending on the category of the room. The rent is variable depending upon the relationship with the customer however the minimum charges are Rs. 700 per night. The hotel is a 3-Star hotel according to the owner. He emphasized that in the local hotel management scene it can be classified as a 3-Star hotel. However keeping the international hotel management standards in mind, he further added that the hotel would be given at most, a 2-Star rating. This does not imply that the hotels in Pakistan are not competitive enough on international standards. We have some very good 3 and 4-Star hotels in the country such as the Shalimar hotel in Rawalpindi and the Serena Tourist Hotel chain.

Hotel Sky Tower has one restaurant by the name of Rubas and a coffee shop named Fizza. The construction on the hotel started five years ago on an empty plot in the main Saddar locality but due to the ever deteriorating law and order situation the project was delayed. The hotel was completed and opened in January 1995. The hotel was fully financed by the owners. The hotel currently has ninety rooms for guests, while the remaining are occupied by the management and the staff. The hotel is centrally air-conditioned as well as centrally heated.

OWNER’S PROFILE

Mr. Zeeshan Pervaiz belongs to a business family. He is 24 years old and has a very charming personality(ideal for an entrepreneur). He is polite and balding fastly. His father entered the coal mining business twenty years ago and gradually established himself as an entrepreneur in that industry. After achieving success in the mining industry, his father decided to diversify his business. Mr. Zeeshan, currently doing his Bachelors in Business Administration from Greenwich University, gave the idea of opening a hotel in Karachi. The owners had no previous experience in this competitive field but they wanted to capitalize on the growth potential in the hotel management industry. With his preoccupation in the mining business, his father decided to give him the task of setting up and managing this hotel.

Mr. Zeeshan is currently devoting eight to ten hours daily to his pet project. Mr. Zeeshan started with no previous experience in managing a hotel but the fourteen months he spent as the owner/manager of this hotel have given him valuable knowledge which no books in Greenwich could impart. Mr. Zeeshan believes that practical experience is more important than textbook knowledge. He employs this philosophy in the selection and recruitment of his managers.

MANAGEMENT PHILOSOPHY

Mr. Zeeshan’s management philosophy is based on the achievement of two objectives; Quality and Profit. He does not believe in increasing his profit through cost minimization. He contends that hotel management is essentially a service industry and if you concentrate on minimizing the cost you would fail in achieving the desired quality standards. Profits cannot be made by sacrificing quality.

Mr. Zeeshan is a “delegating manager”. He believes in decentralization of control and delegation of authority. unlike other entrepreneurs he is of the view that ownership and management are two different spheres of activity. He gave the example of Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza previously known as The Taj Mahal. He said that the hotel was doing better before the takeover of the international chain. The Seth that was given the license did not separate the management from the ownership. He employed his family members as heads of the various departments with no prior experience in hotel management. This led to a downfall in the quality and service standards of the hotel. The managers of the five departments at Hotel Sky Towers are given full authority to make day-to-day decision. Moreover they are consulted whenever an important long term decision is to be made by the owner. Mr. Zeeshan believes in promotions from within and discourages the influence of family members. He believes that ethics have no place in the competitive world of hotel management.

PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT

The international standards of hotel management require 1.5 employees per room. Hotel Sky Tower meets these standards with 130 employees for ninety rooms. The hiring and firing is the responsibility of the departmental heads. There are five departments namely House Keeping, Food and Beverages, Sales, Accounts and the Front Office. The managers of these departments have been with the hotel since its inception. These managers were initially hired as consultants while working for other hotels. Later they were offered full time jobs as departmental heads in the hotel. The emphasis on hiring these managers was on experience rather than qualification. The well established contacts of these managers brought a lot of customers from competing hotels. The owner does not believe in giving formal titles to the jobs. The employees personally know their standing and their responsibilities.

The hotel currently employs no MBAs as the owner believes that the pay scale of the industry does not meet the demands of business graduates. The work environment desired by these graduates is not present in the smaller hotels. The pay scale of the lower level employees matches that of the competitors, however it is on the lower side. Their turnover rate is high because of the low pay scale. Moreover they cannot make both the ends meet just by one job. Therefore they work in shifts at the hotel and hold other jobs as well. Presently there is no union to represent the employees at the hotel and the management discourages the formation of one.

COMPETITION

The main competitors of Hotel Sky Towers are Hotel Sarawan and Hotel Mehran. Hotel Sarawan is located just opposite Hotel Sky Towers in the Saddar area. Mr. Zeeshan Pervaiz said that he does not include other 3-Star hotels like Hotel Faran and Embassy Hotel in the competition because their services are inferior to that of Hotel Sky Towers. Moreover he disclosed a startling revelation regarding Best Western Hotel Plaza. He said that it is common knowledge in the hotel management industry that they do not have an official license from Best Western international chain of hotels.

The main competition of the hotel is Hotel Sarawan. Hotel Sarawan is the oldest hotel among the competition. It has been in service for ten years. By initially hiring people from the well established hotels(Mehran and Sarawan), Hotel Sky Towers was able to make a dent in their clientele. Mr. Zeeshan admitted that Hotel Sarawan is the number one hotel in the 3-Star category. However he added that presently Hotel Sky Towers has left behind Hotel Mehran in the competition. The reason for this was the poor management in Hotel Mehran. The Hotel Sky Towers is fully computerized whereas the competitors still rely on manual paperwork.

CLIENTELE, SERVICE, AND MARKETING STRATEGY

Hotel Sky Towers relies on a varied clientele. This is in contrast to the competitors which have fixed clients and target particular segments of the market. A case in point is Hotel Mehran which is mainly dependent on the Russian clients. The main customers of the Hotel Sky Towers are pharmaceutical companies, banks and some Russian customers. Some Russian flight screws and over-night customers are also regular customers of the hotel. Mr. Adeel Qazalbash, Manager Housekeeping department added that the hotel discourages some Russian customers belonging to Tajikstan and Azerbaijan which are very dirty and messy people. The hotel has had some embarrassing experiences with these customers.

The hotel has allocated two separate floors for the use of the Russian customers and has another floor for executives. This floor has a Conference Room which is equipped with all audio-visual aids. This room is primarily used by pharmaceutical companies which have their annual general body meetings here. There is a separate Meeting room which is ideal for small meetings. This room is converted into a disco every Thursday night for the needs of the Russian clients. Moreover there is a Business Center which has the facilities of telephone, computers, photocopiers, fax and photocopying machines for the busy businessman.

The services that the hotel offers are 24 hours room service, Laundry and valet services, availability of a doctor on call, safe deposit facility and acceptance of Visa and Master Card. The rooms contain a color TV with a choice of 7 channels, a two channel music system, climate control ( they have installed a Siemens Air Conditioning system for the cooling purposes; cost Rs. 50 lacs), Automatic wake up system, direct dialing facility from the rooms and a mini-bar. Good service is the main aim of the hotel and the managers and staff go out of their way to fulfill all valid and invalid demands of the customers.

There is a separate Sales Department for marketing purposes. However Mr. Zeeshan believes that like other competitors they cannot afford to advertise on TV and magazines. He believes in word-of-mouth publicity and Personal Selling. Mr. Ishtiaque Ahmed is the head of the Sales Department. He is a very talented and experienced individual and since his joining the hotel, business has boomed dramatically. He employs personnel selling. He has been instrumental in bringing large groups of customers to the hotel. Package promotions as offered by large hotels are not possible in the 3-star category. Mr. Zeeshan emphasizes on business customers as there is no scope for tourism in a city like Karachi.

RECORD KEEPING

The housekeeping department keeps a log book of every complaint made by the customers. The department has three shifts which have varied number of employees. The head of the department is responsible for looking into these complaints. A separate register is maintained for noting the inventory of the rooms daily. This was necessary due to the shabby behavior of the Russian clients. The clients are provided an opinion card to give their opinions about the hotel and its services. Files are maintained for each employee and due care is taken to eliminate inefficient employees.

FINANCIAL STRUCTURE

Mr. Zeeshan admitted that the management lacked in this field of operations. No records were maintained in the beginning but soon they established an Accounts Department for this purpose. All the filing and paperwork is regulated by this department. The hotel maintains its accounts at Muslim Commercial Bank. He refused to disclose the actual amount spent for the construction of the hotel but said that after being fourteen months in operation, they have managed to recover 15-20 percent of the initial investment.

Mr. Zeeshan added that the first year of operations was disastrous for the hotel. Initially they had only 20-30 customers per day. Certain mismanagement on the part of the personnel department caused more employees and less work. The management decided to lay off some of the employees. Then gradually as the customer base started to build up, they hired new staff.

A drawback of the hotel is the lack of maintaining proper financial records. Presently there are no financial ratios available for analysis. However, the owners are now planning to change the hotel from Sole Proprietorship into a Private Limited Company. This requires the establishment of a separate finance department.

GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS AND SUPPLIERS

The hotel has to deal with 15 separate regulatory authorities. This involves a lot of hassles and as the owners are not very ethical in their dealings, they exploit loopholes in the system. In the owner’s view the government, instead of helping the small businesses, has a negative effect on them. This results in malpractice’s on the part of the entrepreneurs.

Initially the hotel was dependent upon suppliers and wholesalers for various services. gradually they have managed to reduce the involvement of these suppliers in the business. An example of this is the Laundry service available to the customers which is managed by the owner. Now the hotel relies on middlemen only for the procurement of food and beverages.

FUTURE PLANS

The owner currently owns Hotel Arsalaan at Tariq Road along with Hotel Sky Towers. However that hotel is a small one and is not the focus of their attention. Mr. Zeeshan seems to be content with his present project. He plans to open a Chinese restaurant in Quetta in the near future. He wants to stay in the hotel management industry and open a chain of fast food joints in Karachi. When asked about acquiring a franchise(McDonalds, Burger King, KFC etc.), he said that it is a hassle to get a franchise in Pakistan and that he lacked the proper experience required to manage them. However, he intends to complete his Masters and then do a Diploma course in Hotel and Restaurant Management.

Successful Leaders Preach About Their Vision: Successful Entrepreneurs Articulate Their Goals And Dreams

leader

Successful business ventures start with a vision. Someone somewhere has a dream and the willpower to try and make something of that dream. One day that dream becomes reality. A small business somewhere takes its first steps forward. It’s at that point that the dream becomes a vision. And it’s the small business owner, the entrepreneur that has to then become the preacher of that vision.

Becoming a Preacher

A successful entrepreneur has to become a preacher. But to do that they need to fully believe in their sermon. They have to believe in what they are doing before they can convince others how great the vision is. No matter what the product or business is it’s the owner, the entrepreneur who is the leader of the business. It’s their vision and they have to believe. If they don’t believe that what they are trying to achieve is possible how then are they going to convince others? As the leader of the venture, the one with the vision you have to believe.

Can You Get Others to Believe?

If you believe in the vision you have for your company then you’ve managed to achieve your first goal. Now comes the hardest part. Getting others to believe in your vision too. Remember though that you are a preacher. And no matter how much you get tired of preaching the same sermon you need to do it as often as possible. You preach to your employees, your investors, your suppliers, and your customers. You preach about you vision every chance you get.

Your Employees Need Something to Believe In

So why do you preach to your employees? Because they need something to believe in as well. They want to know that the company they work for has a future. They want to know how they can contribute to the success of the vision. They want to see your vision become the company’s vision. It becomes a goal that the whole company can focus on. You want to see them preaching about the company vision too.

Convince Your Investors

You preach to your investors if you have some. Whether they are angel investors, banks, or the relatives that loaned you some money. They need to see how fervent you are about your vision. It assures them that you will work as hard as necessary to make your business venture a success. Showing how committed you are will make them feel that their investment is safe.

Your Suppliers are a Part of the Plan

Share your vision with your suppliers. Show them how much you believe in what you are doing. It will help you to form a strong bond with them. It communicates to them what your relationship can become in the future. The people that represent your suppliers will come away feeling as if they should pay attention to you. That by helping you now their partnership with you will bear more fruit in the future through more business and larger orders.

Let Your Customers Know Your Goals

Finally preach to your customers. Because just as preaching about your vision can help you with your suppliers so too can it help you with your customers. Communicating your vision to your customers lets them know how much you value your relationship. It tells them that the efforts that go into your vision can benefit them as well. With better or more timely service. Maybe better products. Possibly a whole host of new services that might be offered in the future. Communicating with your customers as much as possible is always healthy for a growing relationship.

Communicate the Vision Constantly

Successful business owners have a vision but more importantly they have the ability to communicate what that vision is. Taking the time to share that vision with your employees, investors, suppliers, and customers can help make believers of more people than just yourself. Successful entrepreneurs are preachers.

Entrepreneur Resources: How to Get Started in Export Trade

Below is a guest post from Brabble CEO Patrick Mackaronis. Pat can be reached best on Twitter at @patty__mack.

The differences between the differential value of exports to imports for a country is termed its balance of trade or trade deficit or trade surplus. Countries generally want to bring in more income from its exports than it spends on its imports, hence favoring the trade surplus.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the U.S.’s international trade deficit in goods and services increased to $46.3 billion in August from $42.6 billion in July. U.S. imports have increased more than exports for a number of years. Is there anything good in this for the U.S.-based entrepreneur?

Federal and state agencies have increased U.S. export trade initiatives that generally mean increased assistance and cost savings for entrepreneurs. For instance, the Obama administration’s National Export Initiative executive order was signed in 2010 and aims to support polices that can double U.S. exports in five years. Trade firms who seek to grow their export sales will benefit from these types of incentives that encourage U.S. export trade.

Below are a number of additional resources for new U.S. export traders to consider.

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), also called the Commerce Department, is a federal agency that operates 47 district offices throughout the country. The DOC provides significant counsel to U.S. exporters, aiding and assisting entrepreneurs in making import and export trade deals happen. Their website at DOC.gov offers a number of resources, including government market reports for business men, economist and legal counsel performing due diligence in assisting in international trade transactions.

International Trade Administration (ITA)

The ITA is part of the DOC, but focuses on U.S. exports. Contact the ITA for economic and commercial information related to international export trade to a specific country. This agency coordinates and draws upon market research from other national and international agencies, such as the reports of the World Bank .

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA)

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, or NASDA, is an association of U.S. state departments charged with promoting the safety and trade viability of U.S. agricultural industry products. Contact NASDA to find out about resources available to agricultural exporters on the state level in your state of business operations.

Regional U.S. Trade Organizations

There are also a number of regional business association that provide support to specific industries involved in export trade. For instance, the Pacific Lumber Exporters Association is but one of many trade organizations that publish vital market research information and networking opportunities for its members specific industry.

Government and Industry Association Help with Your Export Business

Export trade offers many advantages to U.S. businesses. It is also a terrain with rules and parties a domestic firm will be unfamiliar with without calling upon expert resources. Of central importance to new firms in export trade is to be aware of the political, economic and regulatory terrain of a potential export market to avoid costly mistakes and misunderstandings. Take advantage of the free resources provided from governmental agencies and the low cost help often available through industry associations.

Successful Entrepreneurs Ask ‘What’s Next?’

The most powerful word for any entrepreneur is “next.” Yes, to be successful, “stick-to-it-ness,” as they say, is important, but knowing when it’s time to stop is better. What really makes you an entrepreneur with a capital “E,” is growing a business, letting go of what’s going good, and starting new things. Anything else is just owning a business. Kyle Uchitel and Aleksandr Vasser, co-founders of Phoenix-based business Avky Inc, weigh in with four habits of successful entrepreneurs.

You Can Be Entrepreneurial Even If You Don’t Own a Company

Being an entrepreneur doesn’t mean you’ve got to build and run a bunch of different companies. It can happen in the company you’re operating right now, whether you own any of it or not. We’ve all seen at least one employment ad that asks for self-starters and entrepreneurial thinking. But what they’re really looking for are innovators; people who add value by creating new ways to do things that save or make money.

Entrepreneurial Thinkers Find New Ways To Save or Make Money

One company that stands out is redballinternet.com. They got started after two freshly graduated computer programmers showed up at a consulting gig without some much needed documents. With no Internet connection they started wondering how they could wirelessly and securely access files at their office from anywhere. The next thing you know they’re negotiating with Kyrocera to license their iBurst technology, one of the world’s most robust secure wireless network systems.

But wait. Can’t you already do this in Wi-Fi zones? Well, not exactly. First, Wi-Fi is not secure, and you’ve got to be within 300 feet of one of its access points for it to work. iBurst gives you encrypted high-speed Internet access anywhere within 8 miles of one of their towers.

Successful Entrepreneurs Know When Things Aren’t Working And Change

At first they went into business installing towers in small communities with no hi-speed Internet connections, only to find out it wasn’t a financially sustaining model. There just wasn’t enough business volume in rural areas to make it worthwhile. So what did they do? They just stopped. Rather than holding on, they stopped and asked those all-important questions: “what else?” “What’s next?”

Instead they started to focus their attention on how they could apply their technology, instead of how they could sell it. Like software applications that allow you to securely use your credit card in a cab, or if you’re a lawyer, get that 50MB confidential file you forgot while sitting in court. Sorry, you’re BlackBerry just can’t do that. They’re even working on an application that will wirelessly communicate power usage – no more meter readers lurking around our backyards and basements.

Entrepreneurs That Get It Right Know When To Move On And Start Again

When it comes to entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurial thinking, Red Ball’s got it right so far, I think. Especially when it comes to engaging their customers and getting them to dream about all the things they could do with their technology. But they wouldn’t have gotten there if they didn’t know when to stop, give up, move on and start again in a different way.

Avky Inc can be best reached on Twitter at @avkyinc.