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Chalk it up to simple economic realities, but a capital expenditure requires quite a bit of forethought these days. This makes finding the best equipment financing for your business more important than ever, says Tim Evans, president of FirstMerit Equipment Finance.“We tend to keep equipment around a lot longer than we have in the past,” Evans says. “It’s important that when you get that initial piece of equipment and you make your decision on financing that you are thinking long term, not just short term, and that you understand the value of that equipment to your business.”Smart Business spoke with…
The coming year is a quiet one for health care reform implementation, but 2012 is significant in terms of whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) we know as the Health Care Act will continue as is.The question is whether the act is constitutional in whole or part, and with two opposing federal appellate court decisions, the case has landed on the doors of the U.S. Supreme Court, which will decide whether to accept the case this year.What next? And if the case is heard by the court this year, how will the decision affect the future…
In business and in life, we all spend time conjuring up negative thoughts that are not only unproductive but also make us crazy.Do you sometimes second-guess yourself after a meeting with that important client? Maybe it was something that just jumped out of your mouth before you considered the consequences when you were talking to someone important or something as simple as wondering why did he or she look at you “that way.” It’s even worse sometimes when you’re the CEO or leader and you browbeat yourself over and over, pondering if you got the intended message out with the…
Monday, 31 October 2011 21:01

Is that professional?

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A quick scan of today’s headlines tends to send up red flags about the amount of trust individuals place in businesses. Author and management consultant Bill Wiersma theorizes the root cause of this state of distrust is a lack of professionalism. In his book, “The Power of Professionalism,” Wiersma explores the definition of being a true professional. In this interview, he discusses how companies can encourage professionalism from the point of hiring, why success should not be achieved “by any means necessary” and the critical importance of being a part of something bigger.One of the main arguments you make in…
Monday, 31 October 2011 21:01

Money vs. meaning

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Guy Kawasaki, the one-time chief evangelist for Apple, will tell you that if you are in business to make money, you probably won’t be successful. But if you are in business for a greater meaning, you will probably not only be successful but you will also make money.The concept is actually pretty simple. If our goals are centered on solving problems or creating a greater good, then there will be value associated with what we are doing, we’ll attract top people and customers will be happy. If our goals are focused on money, we are more than likely to just…
Monday, 31 October 2011 21:01

Leadership lessons from Dale Carnegie Coaches

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Dale Carnegie Training is a teaching based program for businesses based on Dale Carnegie's teachings. It was founded in 1912, is represented in more than 80 countries and over 8 million people have completed Dale Carnegie Training.Dale Carnegie Training emphasizes practical principles and processes by designing programs that offer people the knowledge, skills and practices they need to add value to the business. Connecting proven solutions with real-world challenges, Dale Carnegie Training is recognized internationally as the leader in bringing out the best in people.The following are three real-life letters from Dale Carnegie students to Michael Crom, the executive vice…
Communication needs are changing, and if businesses don’t keep up with new and emerging technologies, they could quickly be left in the dust by their competitors.But with new technologies launching almost every day, it can often be difficult to know if the latest “next big thing” will actually help your business or just be a waste of money.While there are many buzzed-about technologies being pitched to business owners, there are certain technologies that, if properly implemented and maintained, can really change the way a company carries on day-to-day operations and interacts with its customers.“The business world is always changing and,…
[caption id="attachment_38406" align="alignright" width="200" caption="Jim Camp, general manager and partner, Cutler Real Estate"][/caption]Jim Camp has seen his share of mergers and acquisitions. The general manager and partner of Cutler Real Estate, Camp has guided 12 mergers or acquisitions involving smaller companies over the last 15 years. However, it’s not the number alone that he sees as a success indicator but the way company cultures have been merged successfully.“Our mergers fortunately have gone pretty well because we have experience and know how to do it and try to minimize concerns and issues,” Camp says about the firm, which has 300 Realtors…
Should your legal firm be considering ways to improve its payment practices ? and ultimately its cash flow ? alternative fee arrangements and online payable tools are good bets.But a word of advice from Gavin Geraci, senior vice president, specialty segment executive, PNC Business Banking: couple that examination with an evaluation of the firm’s financial policies.“Any time you’re going to adopt a new billing arrangement or structure, use that as an opportunity to evaluate billing and collection policies,” Geraci says. “It’s likely going to result in a change in revenue, a change in how clients see their charges and it’s…
Wednesday, 05 October 2011 16:57

Mergers and acquisitions require careful consideration

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If your company is considering a merger or acquisition, do your homework first and make sure the board is in the loop. And while you are at it, bring in outside counsel early enough to avoid problems later.“Be prepared, particularly if you are a public company,” says Brian JM Quinn, assistant professor of law at Boston College Law School and editor of the M&A Law Prof Blog. “Have a plan with the board so you know what to do in the event that the board or the CEO is approached to be acquired or to take the company private, for…
If you are worried about how technology issues are impacting your business, how management issues are demanding more time and how federal regulations are often a challenge to understand, you are not alone.Setting aside bottom line concerns, these three areas are among the top legal challenges that companies are facing today. But don’t despair. The best advice is ? get legal advice, and do it sooner rather than later.“The biggest pitfall to avoid is not involving your lawyers until there is a problem,” says Steve Zack, former president of the American Bar Association. “Legal counsel is much more cost-effective if…
The key to evolving into a powerful and memorable executive speaker is to stay calm and in control. The tips below will support you in learning to reduce nervousness and deliver a powerful presentation that will move your audience.Take each tip and mold it to your personality. Make it work for your voice and style.10 tips for preparing your speech:1. Begin with the end in mindStart your writing with the ending in mind. What is the purpose of your message? Once you have this definitive point prepared and an objective, it should drive all else beneath it.Note that: Objectives are…
Monday, 10 October 2011 22:25

The Smart Business digital eMag

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Take a look at our latest leap into the world of mobility, online publications and interactivity - the NEW Smart Business digital eMag!Sponsored by Rea & Associates, this premiere edition allows you to interact directly with Smart Business, the people we write about and our advertisers.Click here to experience the October edition of Smart Business Cleveland - in a digital format!After you have a chance to virtually flip through this digital offering, please let us know what you think by sending your feedback to tsympson@sbnonline.com.As always, thank you for your readership.
Moving a business or opening a new office is a complex operation, and the ability to make a smooth IT transition is critical for reducing downtime, maintaining productivity and avoiding frustration for employees and clients.“Moving is a formidable task,” says Shawn Sturgeon, sales engineer manager at Time Warner Cable Business Class. “A business can prepare by carefully planning how IT systems will be disconnected, relocated and installed at the new location. The key is to minimize the risk of downtime, which can be a serious financial and customer-relationship threat.”Planning is critical to the success of a move, and Sturgeon emphasizes…
If you buy an item online or out of state and you don’t pay sales tax on it, you may owe use tax to the state of Ohio.However, many businesses and individuals only discover this when they are audited by the state, resulting not only in the payment of taxes going back seven years — the state’s prior audit policy for unregistered taxpayers — but also in interest and penalties, says Mary Jo Dolson, CPA, director in tax at SS&G.“There are numerous taxpayers located inside and outside of Ohio who are not paying Ohio use tax,” says Dolson. “That is…
When Nancy Diller-Shively founded Cambridge Home Health Care back in 1994, the company was operating out of two offices, with employees working toward the goal of helping more and more people improve their health by using in-home health care services. In the past 17 years, Diller-Shively and her employees have still not lost sight of that goal, and the result is a company that has grown to 37 offices and employs more than 2,000 people across Ohio and Pennsylvania.From 2005 to 2010 alone, Cambridge added 15 new offices to expand its reach of services and provide more comprehensive care for…
Amish Mills Inc. began as a small operation, a company making high-quality Amish furniture with a work force of 12 craftsmen. Since then, the company has grown its revenue, customer base and employees — close to 100 today — year after year by developing its niche as a national retailer of quality, authentic Amish furniture.When Chairman Christopher Karman bought Amish Mills in 2003, he realized that while the company’s product quality was impeccable, the problem was that the company’s niche of Amish handcrafted curios was no longer very profitable. The real strength of the business was the company’s team of…
Since it was founded in 1997, Americas International Inc. has grown from its local roots in Akron, to today representing some of the world’s leading chemical companies from the United States, Europe and Asia. Under the leadership of President Wayne Stair, Americas has continued to build its reputation as a leading North American distributor of rubber and rubber chemicals by always going beyond meeting customer expectations and aiming to exceed them.With a focus on value, personal service and innovative problem-solving solutions, Americas’ company culture keeps employees driven to provide solutions that always result in customer satisfaction. Employees at America know…
Each year, about 40,000 people die in the United States as a result of breast cancer, and more than 232,000 new cases are diagnosed.But with early detection, the number of deaths could decrease and those who are newly diagnosed would have a better chance at treatment and survival, says Julie Sich, health promotions coordinator for SummaCare Inc.“Breast cancer is highly treatable if detected in the early stages,” says Sich. “With proper screening done on a regular basis, both men and women diagnosed with breast cancer have a high rate of survival.”Smart Business spoke with Sich about the importance of early…
Hackers don’t play favorites. Whether your business is big or small, if you have people’s personal information, someone may be trying to get it.And if someone succeeds, are you prepared to deal with the consequences?“Hackers are not selective,” says Todd Winter, a partner at SeibertKeck. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a retailer, bank, manufacturer, health care company, educational institution, insurance agency or a government entity; they don’t discriminate against who they are hacking.”Smart Business spoke with Winter about how privacy and security liability insurance can protect your company if personal information is stolen.What kinds of companies should be concerned about…
Thursday, 06 October 2011 20:01

Bill Feth's keys to making comfortable transitions

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As CEO Bill Feth describes it, AESCO Electronics Inc. is now in the midst of its “third rebirth.” Soon, the company will be planning for its fourth.That is why employees at AESCO understand that change is constant. The company has become proficient at constantly readjusting its business model to better meet customers’ needs. And in the down economy, the company’s ability to reinvent itself was critical when it found itself in the position of having to layoff nearly 50 percent of its employees in 2009.Yet by focusing on the goal of hiring back employees and returning to profitability, AESCO’s leadership…
There’s no finish line in technology, and Brian Deagan loves it.“Nothing’s ever done; something new is always being created and that just intrinsically creates opportunities to build companies,” says Deagan, co-founder and CEO of digital marketing services and software developer Knotice Ltd.But along with that comes some growing pains. The company over the past five years has exceeded 500 percent growth in employees and annual revenue; however, the need to hire at a quick pace is not the only concern Deagan has.“Keeping up with some of the basic changes and things that are going on in the market can be…
HR professionals haven’t seen a need to revise their company’s health care strategy. After all, they’ve been busy with staff reductions and taking steps to offset rising health care costs, while waiting for a government committee to clarify the murky details of health care reform.But it’s time to stop procrastinating and get back to the drawing board, because employer health care costs are projected to rise by 7 percent in 2012 and insurance carriers are reporting an increase in employee claims for illnesses related to post-recession stress.“It’s easy to avoid change in times of uncertainty, but at some point it…
Friday, 30 September 2011 20:01

How to take advantage of trade cycle financing

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Interest rates vary throughout the world, and companies that do business internationally can use this knowledge to their advantage.“Buyers and sellers really need to know the interest rates in the country of their customer and the impact on their trading partner’s cost of doing business,” says Craig Schurr, a senior vice president and the International Banking Division Manager with FirstMerit Bank. “As cost of finance directly impacts cost of purchase, sellers really need to know their customer’s cost of borrowing and if financing is available to them. When armed with that information, you can create a partnership with the companies…
Thursday, 06 October 2011 20:01

All aboard

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On its website, J. Rayl Transport Inc. posts an FAQ for prospective employees. One of the questions included is “Are you really a great place to work?” The answer below confirms, “Yes, we’re really a great place to work.”As other transportation businesses have shrunken in the troubled economy, family-owned J. Rayl Transport has continued to grow by providing customers reliable transportation services so they can maintain quality reputations with their own customers. President and CEO Jeremy Rayl recognizes that this success, apparent from the company’s eight years of consecutive growth, begins with his employees. That’s why J. Rayl makes sure…
Thursday, 06 October 2011 20:01

The honor roll

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Manufacturing GroupACS Industries Inc.Joe ZenoACS Industries Inc. is a manufacturer and provider of attachments for off-road and construction equipment. The company tailors its attachment solutions to customer needs. This quality of service combined with strategies for new sales opportunities has allowed the company to grow following a sales dip, increasing sales by 9 percent and employment by 30 percent from 2009 to 2010.AESCOBill FethAESCO, an electronics manufacturing and distributing company, often readjusts its business model to meet customers’ needs and facilitate growth. To combat the economic slump in 2009, AESCO’s leadership team re-evaluated its operations, streamlined processes and increased new…
Friday, 30 September 2011 20:00

Entrepreneurial spirit award: Seizing opportunities

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With his company feeling the effect of the economic recession, in August 2008, Bob Shearer used his state of the company meeting as an opportunity to turn the challenge back to his team of employees. He asked associates at Shearer’s Foods Inc. to come up with cost-saving ideas that would also allow him to give them pay raises. The result was an outpouring of 1,000 employee suggestions, whittled down to approximately 100 ideas that could help move the company forward. After implementing 65 of the suggestions to date, Shearer’s has already experienced a $1.4 million savings and been able to…