Useful For Yous Company – How To Limit Liability In Your Early Education Company

There is always risk and opportunity for liability in an early education company, but there are a number of ways you can limit your liability and manage risk in your business. Here are 11 things you may want to consider. (** Always talk with the proper professionals before taking action.)

1. The Heart Stopper: Make sure you never lose track of a child. This terrifying event is most likely to happen when moving back and forth to the playground or when children are transported via busses or vans. Sometimes it is not enough to count the number of children. Make sure you perform a sweep after “all” of the children have left an area. This is especially important for busses and vans as children are easily overlooked when they are in the back of a bus or van.

2. Observe Good Business Practices: This act is incredibly important. While it doesn’t guarantee that you will be safe in your business environment, it certainly reduces the risk of getting sued.

3. Business Component Incorporation: Incorporate your business to limit your personal liability.

4. Real Estate: If you own real estate for your early education company, own it in a corporation or LLC that is different than the corporation that owns your business component. By holding your real estate in a different entity, it can be protected from litigation against the childcare business. Remember, you don’t have to be wrong to be sued. Over the years, we have seen childcare company owners sued frivolously for little more than a parent that just needed a source of income.

5. Transportation: While some companies don’t go this far, owning your company vehicles in a separate transportation company helps to limit liability in the event of a traffic accident. Some people and their attorneys view litigation like a lottery. Fighting a lawsuit with someone who is trying to make a “corporation” pay is time consuming at best. It’s also likely to increase your insurance rates.

6. Insurance: Make sure you have the proper insurance coverage, including but not limited to, liability, property, flood and business interruption coverages.

7. Teachers: Train your teachers so they instinctively guard against any threat to the children, themselves or your center(s).

8. Playgrounds: Sectionalize playgrounds to make sure older children don’t accidentally collide with the little ones when playing outside.

9. Security: Install proper security doors and surveillance cameras so unwanted visitors don’t gain access to your center or the people in it.

10. Licensing Compliance: While licensing is always part of the daily childcare business, keep in mind that the regulations are there with good purpose. Sometimes it is the smallest act of prevention that stops a catastrophe.

11. Professionals: Make sure you have at least one good attorney and one good CPA on your team. Having the right professional to show you the correct path is much easier than learning things the hard way.

By following a few practical and common sense rules, you can limit both your risk and your liability in your business.

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You May Need This – Keys to Securing Market Intelligence

If you are responsible for managing investments or financial portfolios the value of industry expertise and market intelligence cannot be understated.

Many fund managers, investment brokers, private equity firms, and private placement organizations, both large and small, possess either in-house expertise or utilize the services of industry advisors to provide and augment insight into the markets and players that is not often found though traditional research. Many national expertise firms exist to provide platforms for analysts and fund managers to tap into this knowledge base and gain the information necessary to fill in the gaps and enhance their understanding of the industries and companies in which they have holdings or seek to make entry.

Another useful and beneficial tactic used by many investment firms is to maintain a list of qualified industry experts that can be called upon when needed. Many competent firms specialize in particular industries and even geographies to provide expedited and very relevant information for a simple phone consultation or can be retained for specific periods of time. The firm’s information is typically retained in-house for the primary markets and industries that pertain to the investment profile of their firm and clientele.

While there are reams of information available online, much of it will require extensive investigation and vetting in order to be considered valuable. The sourcing of much of this information is provided from companies that have not actively participated in these markets and is oftentimes derived from the review of financial statements and resources available in the public domain. Some also conduct industry surveys and generate reports that are available for purchase.

The other factor in online research is time. As we all know, timing is critical and the sooner you can have confidence in the information you possess, the greater the opportunity for success and more responsive your investment decisions can be.

When it comes to investment decisions it is often wiser to seek council from those with a first-hand exposure to the specific industry in question. The information can typically include insights on competitive pressure, company leadership, pricing, market share, strategic advantages, new products in development, expansion estimates, industry and company exposures, and of course provide confidence and verification of going forward estimates and projections made by the company.

In today’s economy knowledge is king, and the information you need to make the best decisions possible is readily available to support your company and your customers.

Concrete Results provides support and guidance to fund managers, private placement, private equity, investment analysts, equity traders, and government investment managers specifically in the market segments including cement, concrete, aggregates, infrastructure, and transportation. Our depth of knowledge and practical industry experience has proven invaluable to many clients who manage global investments within these market spaces.

Read This – The Consequences of Inadequate Due Diligence

Operating a global business today requires efficiently managing a network of third-party partners that supply product components, run operations in foreign markets, operate call centers, or act as outside consultants or agents.

The vast array of capabilities and specialized skill sets of a well-maintained third-party network makes operations easier for both the organization and its customers. But many organizations, from small businesses to multi-national corporations, can rarely afford the time and effort required in-house to manage these often complex third-party relationships.

Because of this, the risk of unethical business practices, bribery and other business corruption potentially increases if inadequate due diligence is conducted on third-party partners. The ramifications of a scandal related to a third-party partner can easily take down an organization, resulting in such risks as a damaged reputation and brand devaluation, to regulatory violations, legal proceedings and possible fines and jail terms for directors. The only way to fully protect the corporation’s assets, therefore, is through a strong and viable third-party risk management program.

Building a third-party risk management program is not a passive process. It requires time and effort on a continual basis, as the risks associated with third-party partnerships constantly evolve.

Consider the events of this past summer, during which the legislators of three separate nations signed new compliance regulations and standards into law. Without a doubt, if your organization’s third-party risk management program is unable to quickly adjust to these new regulations (or is not designed to anticipate future legislative movements) your organization is truly at risk.

Cutting corners: not worth the risk

Still, far too many organizations are willing to tempt fate by cutting corners on development and implementation of their third-party risk management program. Certainly, building a strong risk management program requires a significant investment of time and resources (both internally and from the outside), but the consequences of not doing it right could be dramatically severe.

One way organizations attempt to cut corners is by relying on outdated or stagnant tools to monitor, detect and prevent risks. Almost always, hiring outside industry professionals with proven track records of successful due diligence experience is necessary.

Relying too heavily on “desktop” due diligence is another dangerous shortcut. Desktop due diligence is an important initial step of the investigative process, involving background checks, lien searches, regulatory filing investigations and environmental reports. And while it is a vital component of any effective due diligence program, it’s not nearly enough to thoroughly evaluate a third-party.

Truly understanding a potential partner’s business requires a considerable amount of time spent face-to-face with the outside organization’s leadership, operations management and even current customers. This “boots on the ground” process will detect potential risks which are often hidden from a distance, and undetectable via web-based discovery tools.

The “boots on the ground” approach also helps to establish a relational dynamic required for ongoing negotiations and provides clear insight into two of the fastest-growing issues in third-party risk management: bribery and labor management.

Bribery as a compliance issue

Anti-bribery and anti-corruption compliance is a fast-moving target. New anti-bribery laws and regulations are being decreed around the world at a relentless pace. Complicating matters further, many countries may have laws in place but lack the ability to adequately enforce them. When this is the case, the responsibility falls to your organization’s due diligence program to ensure detection and protection.

High profile investigations in recent years have contributed to the rapid emergence of bribery and corruption as a societal issue. Never before has such a contrast been drawn so dramatically on a global stage between those that engage in bribery and those that suffer as a result. Any organization that finds itself mixed up in a scandal involving bribery has more than a legal mess to contend with. It has a long battle to win back the trust of its shareholders, employees, customers and the public.

Conducting sufficient due diligence surrounded by such varying factors is work that must be conducted in person. Gaining insight into a potential partner’s company culture requires a level of immersion with the organization’s leadership, management and staff. When it comes to evaluating bribery risk, some warning signs can only be discovered on-site.

Labor matters and compliance

From overtime issues and under-age workers, to unsafe working conditions and improperly documented accidents, labor compliance represents a major component of any strong third-party risk management program.

Once again, inadequate attention to risks related to labor compliance can bring on considerable penalties. Understanding which industries, geographic regions and management structures elevate the organization’s risk is key to efficiently operating an effective due diligence program. This understanding is nearly impossible to guarantee via ‘desktop’ due diligence. Spending the necessary time in person is the only way to be sure a potential supplier is properly compensating and managing employees while providing a safe workplace environment.

Make no mistake, even if your agreement with a third-party partner places the responsibility of payroll issues firmly upon the vendor, your organization — as a joint employer — can still be held accountable in many countries. After all, the labor being conducted at your partner’s facility benefits your organization’s bottom line.

Best practices

The demands of identifying and measuring third-party risk, monitoring those potential risks on an ongoing basis, and making recommendations based on empirical research is best met by a dedicated team of outside professionals. And while no two organizations are alike in terms of risk profiles, several factors have become consistent in building a strong and effective due diligence program:

Planning. Without a well thought out plan outlining ongoing monitoring efforts with assigned roles and responsibilities, efforts to mitigate risk will be haphazard at best, and dormant at worst. With a thoroughly established, management-advocated program that identifies specific risk factors for each affiliation, a process for addressing red flags, and an established mechanism for continual revision, the organization will remain vigilant in its efforts to protect itself from liability.

Documentation. Due diligence efforts are only as good as the information and data gathered and secured. Meticulous documentation and reporting enables the organization to recognize trends, communicate analyses, and sustain efforts during any future personnel changes. Effective risk management programs feature established guidelines for capturing data, contracts and research with uniformity.

Culture. An organization where leadership, management and workforce do not take third-party risk seriously will never be adequately protected from risk. Successful organizations in this respect dedicate themselves to building a culture in which every employee feels personally invested in the risk management of the operation. Employees must feel empowered and encouraged to report red flags. Passive engagement is simply not enough.

Done correctly, third-party risk management can effectively save the organization from risk, liability and other perils often associated with outside entities wanting to engage and transact with your business.

These Are 4 Best Ways to Successfully Manage Projects

There are countless resources, guidelines and tips on how to successfully manage projects. But one topic that’s not often covered involves project failures. Not many project managers are ready to admit failure. However, it’s still all too common to see projects fail and that’s why it’s essential to identify and analyse the potential risks and challenges before the project kicks off. By understanding the risks associated with the project’s goals they can more than likely be better managed.

In this article, I’ll identify 4 primary ways to help successfully manage them. Understanding them will hopefully better prepare you for your next one.

Take time to plan: Successful project managers know that they significantly increase a project’s success when they allocate sufficient time to planning. They know the outcomes the project needs to deliver and how its success will be measured. They pay attention to detail and break down big goals into smaller ones. They identify the financial and human resources they need and share their expectations with their project team. They research the costs involved and then set and manage budgets. They know that inaccurate cost estimates can quickly exhaust funds causing parts of the project to be abandoned.

Regular progress and milestone management: Managing milestones and tracking progress towards them helps to identify which parts are off course and allows corrections to be made before it’s too late. Successful project managers assign and prioritise tasks and know that it’s critical to be able to manage people. They know which warning signs to look for and when the project is failing.

Good governance and leadership: Often project managers become so busy that they “don’t see the wood for the trees”. Allocating a project sponsor or senior manager to oversee progress and to ensure that the project manager has support and the resources they require will greatly benefit. Equally, they should be given responsibility for ensuring that the project’s scope and goals are fully understood. Often financial and human resources are scarce and many projects run concurrently and compete with each other. The project sponsor should be someone who has the authority to make decisions on which projects to fund and which ones to delay. They often can cut through red tape and remove obstacles.

Assign experienced project managers: Often projects are allocated to people who are very competent in their jobs but have little or no project management experience. A project manager may be assigned to a business critical or strategic project and will take on significant responsibilities. Successful projects are assigned to individuals who have the experience and have demonstrated they have the capabilities to successfully manage assignments.

These tips are just four basic means to help improve your project’s likelihood of success. Beyond them, there are countless other ways for developing greater value from your projects. But by implementing some of them in planning and executing your projects, you’ll be on your way towards delivering better performance and outcomes.

The 10 Things You Really Need to Know Now

When you hear the words “business insurance,” you might think this only applies to large, established businesses. But in fact, this is an important topic for any sized business – from the largest corporations to the smallest, one-person operation and everything in between.

Whether you’re simply in the beginning stages of getting a business idea up and running, or already own an established business, it’s important to know a few basic things about how business insurance works, and what kinds you might need. Here are a few tips to get you started – or to provide you with a quick review.

1. Property Insurance – understand what it covers

Property insurance covers not only the physical structure which houses your business, but also the contents inside the structure. This could include equipment, office furniture and even inventory.

2. Liability Insurance is a must

No one likes to think about it, but getting sued is always a possibility for a business, regardless of its size. Having the proper amount of liability insurance is of the utmost importance. Liability insurance can help with expenses if your business is sued, but it can also help pay for expenses if anyone is injured due to a faulty product or service.

3. Worker’s Comp – check your state’s requirements

If your business has employees, it’s very possible that you’ll need worker’s compensation insurance. If anyone is injured on the job while working for you, worker’s compensation insurance will help pay for medical expenses. Most states require worker’s comp for all sized businesses, but be sure to check your state’s requirements to be sure that you get the proper type – and amount – of coverage.

4. Errors & Omissions

E&O Insurance is similar to Liability Insurance, but it is specifically for professional services businesses. This type of insurance can cover expenses that may be incurred due to accusations of negligence, or the failure to perform your professional services. Even if you haven’t.

5. Got employees? Consider EPLI

Employment Practices Liability Insurance applies to situations where businesses are sued for things such as discrimination, sexual harassment, or wrongful termination. At one time, these topics were only of concern to larger companies, but in today’s environment, businesses of all sizes can be subject to these types of suits. If your business has employees, it’s wise to consider adding EPLI coverage to your Business Owner’s Policy (BOP, described below).

6. Is Key Employee Insurance worth your while?

Many times, the success of a business relies on the involvement of specific employees. If one of those employees were to pass away unexpectedly, their absence could affect the profitability of the business. The beneficiary of a key employee policy is the business itself. Key Employee policies can often be requested by lenders, to meet certain credit requirements.

7. Cyber Liability Insurance is gaining in popularity

More and more business is being transacted online. And more and more data are being stored in “the cloud,” allowing for ease of access and reducing the need for companies to invest in storage or storage facilities. However, as more business is transacted electronically, the more that information is opened up to theft and hacking. Cyber Liability Insurance will help protect businesses if they experience a data breach; it will help cover costs ranging from legal expenses to public relations expenses.

8. Directors & Officers Liability Insurance is NOT the same as E&O

As the name implies, D&O insurance specifically protects the directors and officers of a company. D&O insurance protects the business, and sometimes the directors and officers themselves, in the event of legal action brought for alleged wrongful acts. While lawsuits such as these are less common in the United States, if your business operates outside the U.S. this type of coverage is definitely worth investigating further.

9. Don’t forget about the car!

If you have vehicles that are owned by your business, and are used exclusively for running your business, they won’t be covered by personal car insurance; a separate business auto insurance policy is needed. There are many types of coverage available, and auto insurance can sometimes be bundled into your Business Owner’s Policy. However, individual plans can be more easily customized.

10. Consider a BOP

A Business Owner’s Policy can be a great way to bundle common types of business insurance into one handy policy. BOPs are customizable, and can save you money since there are multiple types of coverage combined into one policy. Purchasing a BOP can also simplify the insurance process, since you’ll have just one policy, one renewal date, and one premium payment to deal with. While combining policies can be extremely convenient, it should only be done if you can truly have all of your insurance needs met by one product. If your business is of an unusual nature, or you have specific insurance needs, it might be best to still consider individual policies. Working with a trusted insurance agent or broker will help you ensure you’re getting all of your business insurance needs taken care of.

Learn From This – Way to Promote Your Company

Having staff name badges is a form of free advertising for your business especially if you are the new kid in the business block. Whenever people come into contact with your staff, they are able to instantly recognize from their staff badges your company logo; this instantly registers in their minds information about your business.

The second reason for having staff name badges is for the purpose of identification. A staff badge is able to show a limited amount of information about a person like their name, their position or job role in a company and maybe even their business or company identification number. This helps staff within an organization to know each other well especially in the case of a new staff member who has to be introduced to many people all at once. A staff badge can help a lot the staff member in getting well acquainted with his or her new work colleagues without the awkward phrase of “Could you please remind me your name again?” Staff badges can also help customers to identify whom to talk to or seek help from in a business premises. Like for instance in a hospital, a staff badge can help a patient know who is a nurse, who is a doctor, or who is just a hospital administrator like for example an accountant.

The third reason why name badges are important is because they help promote a sense of belonging amongst the company staff. Many people take pride in bragging to their friends and family about working for such and such company. For these people, working for their dream organizations and been able to show a staff badge with their names and job title on them is something they take pride in. Staff name badges basically make staff feel appreciated and recognized by the company or business owner. And as we all know, somebody who feels appreciated is often happier and a better worker.

The last reason why staff name badges are important is for safety and security measures. By workers having a staff badge that can help security personnel easily identify them, outsiders who pose a security risk to the business can be controlled from entering a premises. Those who enter the business from outside can in turn be given a visitor’s badge which can help staff identify that they are visitors indeed and not fellow workers. Staff name badges are very important and because of that every business or institution should have them.

Best Lessons – Eight Lessons We Can Learn From Brexit

On 23 June, the British public made an unexpected and dramatic decision that has not only laid the path for a less than friendly divorce from the EU, but also a rift between the United Kingdom partner countries as well. This decision exemplifies partnership relationships however large or insignificant.

Partnerships are complicated. If the foundations are not solid, you are laying down the path to ultimate collapse. So what lessons can we learn from recent events and how can we avoid our own Brexit partnership crises?

8 Lessons we can learn from Brexit

1 Stay focussed on the ultumate goal

When the founding fathers, Monnet and Schumann, dreamed of a united Europe, their dream was a Europe where no country would be able to take up arms against another. The memory of the carnage of war was raw and strong enough for six European nations to come together to form the European Coal and Steel Community which evolved into the European Economic Community.

Fast forward 40 years and under Jacques Delors, the 12 European member nations evolved into the Single Market, adding the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour to the Vision. This would evolve into a shared services arrangement like no other, spreading over time to 28 countries in total.

A great Vision in principle but difficult to achieve in practice, particularly as the four freedoms would exist best in an environment where language, sovereignty and identity were secondary to the ideal of a one tier Europe without the threat of war.

A vision personifies the ultimate goal and will take time to achieve. Partners to the vision will come up with a series of strategic plans, each with interim goals, all focussing on the ultimate vision. This is where the dreams of the founders begin to differ from expectations that evolve over time. The strategies will involve giving up a level of control. This has to be earned through trust; not blind trust, but trust earned and communicated over and over again. Lack of communication, infighting and bad publicity can easily damage the whole process.

For some, the EU was out there and apart from usually negative publicity in the newspapers (to increase sales), Europe wasn’t perceived as doing a lot except allowing the flood gates open for more foreign nationals to come and take their jobs. In the lead up to the 23 June referendum, proponents of the exit vote were able to capitalise on the lack of clarity of what the EU does by feeding on fear of not being in control of the national interest.

Partners bring to the Vision their own expectations and ideologies. A business partnership may have a Vision based on the pooled resources of two or more companies who are looking to strengthen their market share. A community partnership may have a vision that improves the lives of individuals and communities. In all cases, each partner will come to the table with their own expectations. How do they achieve the vision?

2 Agendas can change

Every partner comes to the table with an agenda. The visible items are put on the table, but some remain hidden. Agendas also change when circumstances change for partners. These can include financial, management and social. The UK has a reputation of being up front with its agenda even when at odds with the other European powers. In 1984 Margaret Thatcher successfully fought for a better financial arrangement and in the 1990’s John Major was successful in excluding the UK from the social Chapter of the Maastricht Treaty. These exemplify the relationship between the UK and our European partners and explain the comments around the less than happy marriage and expected rocky divorce.

Agendas underpin need. For each country, there is an identified perceived need to be in the Union. France wanted to harness post-war West Germany. Britain wanted to halt economic decline.

In the world of partnerships, it is vital for each partner to declare their agenda if they are to foster long term trust. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and partners can hold back the real reason they are interested in the partnership. Without due diligence, partners could find themselves at the wrong end of a hostile situation or find themselves in financial strife because they were not aware of a partner’s intention to use the partnership for personal gain.

3 Build Partnerships on solid foundations

Like the story of the foolish builders that built their houses on the sand, partnerships that are built on hollow foundations easily collapse at the first sign of adversity. The European Economic Community was built on foundations of a strong vision and values of a generation that were involved in major wars. Throughout the first 35+ years, the member countries only had to look to the Berlin Wall to be reminded of a divided Europe. October 1989 was a momentous milestone in the development of Europe, starting the healing process and laying the foundation for a larger, more integrated European Union.

The foundations of a good partnership can be measured by trust, commitment, values, philosophy and culture.

Without trust the EU would not have got to the level it has over the last 60 years. Without trust, it would not have increased from 6 to 28 countries. Whilst trust was high within the cogs and wheels of the European decision-making and administration machines, it didn’t necessarily ripple out to the masses.

Commitment is an interesting concept. Each country came to the table with their own agenda which helped them in bargaining their level of commitment. Commitment was tested at each milestone that led to the deepening of the EU. These milestones were marked by various Treaties, signed by the member countries. In 1991, the UK bargained itself out of the Social Chapter of the Maastricht Treaty. All countries who joined since 1990 are required to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) and adopt the Euro as a part of an economic and monetary union (again a condition of the Maastricht Treaty). A significant step in commitment was the introduction of the European Single Market in 1993. This opened the doors to the free movement of goods, capital, services and people which was further strengthened with the removal of physical barriers (incorporating the Schengen Area within the competencies of the EU as part of the 1997 Amsterdam Treaty), abolishing border controls between most member states. As European integration deepens, member countries are required to extend their commitment a step further, some would say, a step further away from their own sovereignty.

When it comes to partnerships, commitment follows a similar path. Partners agree to commit to an agreed agenda. As time progresses they may be asked to commit more according to an agreed direction. Sometimes the expectations are too high and partners begin to pull back. At other times, internal distractions, changes of management or changes of direction, impact on commitment to partnerships. The EU has survived and grown despite constant changes of member governments and despite internal distractions (eg unification of German). However, the British referendum decision to leave the EU is the first test of change of direction.

The EU has a Values Statement which states that “the Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.” It states that “these values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail”.

The fundamental principles of British values include: democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs, and participation in community life.

Although these values appear similar, the EU values statement is stronger on the social aspects than the UK principles. This difference has been demonstrated a number of times, and is now the sticking point with respect to the free movement of people. The UK wishes to restrict the flow of movement of people into the UK. The UK Principles have always been slightly at odds with the EU values.

These values reflect different philosophical approaches. As an island, the UK has a natural barrier to the free movement of people. It also symbolises British sovereignty. The British people have the ability to say enough is enough. Whereas continental Europe has no natural internal borders and the histories of the people are very much different.

When it comes to partnerships, different philosophies / beliefs systems must be considered. An organisation grounded in social justice will not work effectively with an investment bank. Over the last 30 years, many UK manufacturing companies with long paternalistic foundations have closed down, along the way, being bought up and divested or closed by investment bankers interested in the monetary value of the land.

The success of the EU has been incredible considering it brings together so many diverse cultures. Culture is embedded in the tapestry of the European Union, enriched by the many spoken and written languages. Look within the culture of how the EU operates, then it is easy to see why people are confused. The EU Decision-making system is complex and different to how the UK operates. If it’s different, people don’t want to know until it affects them. Thus, it was easy for the Brexiteers to misinform the general public.

An example of the sensitivities of EU culture is what happened at the outbreak of the mad cow disease crisis. I was in Brussels the very day the whole thing erupted. Crisis meetings were held in Brussels and meetings seemed to move from one venue to another every two hours. I remember seeing cavalcades driving from one place to another across Brussels on a few occasions during the day. Absolute madness.

Like countries, every organisation has its own culture. An organisation with a culture of risk aversion is very different from an organisation with a culture of creativity. Even a partnership between sole traders may be impacted by their personalities. Two people who are control freaks will run into problems before too long. Somebody who takes risks will need to compromise if they are to partner with somebody who has difficulties making decisions.

Partnerships built on trust, commitment, similar values and philosophies and compatible cultures have a strong chance of lasting the distance. If any of these foundation stones were to be disturbed, the partnership could become rocky. Of all of these, trust is the most delicate. Break trust and the rest will fall like a pack of cards.

4 Formalise the Agreement

It’s not just an agreement, it’s the basis for your partnership. The first iteration must not just include the expected conditions, but must include a clear communication plan. If the communication isn’t right, then trust breaks down as people become disillusioned when things don’t go to plan and they feel they are being kept in the dark.

In the political arena, the evolving partnership between the European Countries is marked by Treaties. These Treaties include changes to the decision-making process. There is even a Directorate General for Communication. Even a well organised structure such as the European Union has failed to communicate effectively with the general public. Many people in the UK who knew their livelihoods were influenced by the European Union voted to remain in the EU. There are as many people who have no real idea how the EU influences their lives. This I know from my days working in a role that promoted benefits of being in the European Union. If anything, the EU has been a target by the press for scare mongering about the latest interference in the food we eat, or that decisions are made by unelected bureaucrats. If you don’t have an effective communication mechanism, that is written into the agreement, then you are leaving open a weakness in the partnership.

I labour the point about making sure communication is part of the initial agreement based on research I have carried out with partnerships that have been in existence for some time. As they evolved, lessons were learnt. From the wise came the following recommendations:

  • Make sure there is a written and signed agreement from the start
  • Communication arrangements should be explicit in the agreement
  • Articulate what is being brought into the partnership and what is not (people, resources, activities)
  • Each partner must commit – and that commitment must be articulated in the agreement (resources, time, funds).

Don’t walk into a partnership purely on trust. Put everything in writing including how you’re going to communicate, including decision-making structures and the scope of the partnership. You don’t need to be as sophisticated as the European Union. By all means, keep it simple, but listen to the wise and save yourself and the partnership stress later on.

5 Sharing takes time

The road to integration was always going to be a lengthy one with a number of years between each update (Treaty). Apart from the practicalities, it was a wise move to make each change over a period of time. Even Regulations and Directives (agreed policy implementations) involve a period of time for each member country to adopt. It is easy to understand why it takes time for national structures to adopt changes that aim to standardise systems. There is a high level of complexity and change management that needs to be addressed for success.

So why do we rush into setting up a partnership with high expectations? We seem to think everything can be achieved in a very short space of time. We may even be generous and give ourselves 6 to 12 months. Before you know it, timelines start to go awry. Maybe it’s because the foundations aren’t strong enough yet, but it can also be because the partners did not understand the level to which they agreed to partner. There are many levels to a partnership. It can be as little as a networking partnership, or one where organisations cooperate with each other, or one where they integrate some of their services (back of house), or even a full on merger.

A partnership based on sharing resources, systems and processes takes time. It’s not just a paper exercise translated into action. People are involved. It may mean restructuring jobs, sharing some industry knowledge or sharing clients. Partners are expected to share some turf and even give some up. This has been a contentious area within the European Union. The UK has stood its ground on a number of occasions on matters of integration. An example is its withdrawal from the Exchange Rate Mechanism and consequently the decision to retain the Pound instead of adopting the Euro. It’s important to consider from the beginning what is and isn’t involved. Don’t go ahead assuming that a partner will change their mind later on.

If partnerships move too quickly, at least one partner will start to resist. It usually takes anything up to three years for partnerships to embed an agreed shared service unless there is an overarching imperative (eg merger). Sometimes funding or other imperatives means that potential partners are rushed into a creating a partnership. They work to an artificial deadline by which time they are only just beginning to get some traction. The problem isn’t the partners, it’s the unusually high expectations. I have clients who have been working with others for sharing and promoting training programs. It’s been two years and they are still having difficulties in sharing trainers and teaching materials. There have not been enough short term wins to instil enough confidence and overcome issues of mistrust.

6 Money talks – enough to control the conversation?

An entrepreneur recently said to me that he who controls the money controls the partnership. He had been burnt by some shady partners in the past. Reflecting on people I know who had been involved in partnerships that went wrong, money is at the root of a lot of problems (but not all).

A funding body that funds 12 to 18 month projects to facilitate partnership development, isn’t giving them enough time to succeed. I can also list a number of partnerships that have come together with funding, achieved some short term goals but then the partnerships waned when the funding stopped. Funding had been the key driver.

Many businesses go into partnership because they see a partnership as an investment opportunity into their business. If it’s not a mutually beneficial arrangement, it won’t take long for the cracks to show. There are two main scenarios. The partner absorbing the money may continue to treat the funds as part of ‘their’ business, effectively abusing the agreed arrangement. Alternatively, the partner providing the funds may seek to control the partnership. This is where many business partnerships come undone. The money controls the partnership.

In the community partnerships world, the smell of funding can bring partners to the table who, the minute the funds dry up, disappear as quickly as they came. This is a sad reflection on community collaboration that I’ve noticed both in the UK and in Australia.

How does any of this relate to Brexit? The UK’s interest in the EU has always been economic. Becoming a member in 1973 stopped the UK’s economic decline. The City of London has prospered to be one of the largest financial centres in the world. Paris and Frankfurt are jostling to become the supreme financial powerhouse following the Brexit vote, hoping to woo banks and financial investors away from London. The financial sector is already setting its sight on remaining EU members, deserting London as it moves to an uncertain future outside of the European bloc. Sound familiar?

7 Change is inevitable

All partnerships incur change for all partners. Nobody gets out of jail free. It’s the degree and speed of change that partners are prepared to bear that determines the success of the partnership venture.

The EU is an example of incremental change that impacts all members from the minute they become members. In the case of the EU, change rippled out into the community. It didn’t take too many years for Britain to adopt continental bistros, wine and food to the demise of the greasy spoon cafes. Holidays to the continent replaced annual breaks to the seaside. Europe got closer with only 20 minutes in the Eurotunnel for people travelling to Paris or Brussels.

The Coal and Steel Community evolved into the European Economic Community, which, by the time Britain joined, got caught up in butter mountains due to the Common Agricultural Policy. All change, influenced by Margaret Thatcher’s renegotiation of the UK’s financial contribution, saw a rise in structural interventions such as the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. These became the financial mechanisms for creating and balancing employment across Europe. I remember one region in the UK that set out to prove they had a very high level of social disadvantage so that they could qualify for a high percentage of funding from Europe.

It wasn’t just financial interventions that were used to support change, but also standards. Here lie the myriad of myths such as abolition of prawn cocktail crisps where the reality was that a new directive was introduced to reconcile standards across member countries regarding artificial sweeteners. A lack of understanding or selfish interests perpetuated such myths, some with the intention of slowing down change. By harmonising standards, the EU aims to set quality across Europe. However, many of these standards have been set at common denominator levels where some countries standards remain higher than the standard, allowing other countries to reach an achievable level.

The EU decision-making process is a sophisticated system that crosses cultural and language boundaries. It employs people and resources with the right skills and abilities to manage change with the support of 28 countries. Institutions are divided between the countries to promote commitment. It employs Directives and Regulations for countries to engage with the change process, recognising through Directives that it takes time to embed policy change at the national level.

A partnership at the EU level, though more sophisticated, is no different from a partnership at the grass roots level. Change is inevitable. Everybody must be prepared to engage with change, even if it means wholesale change within each partner’s business or organisation. Change comes with decisions that impact on systems and processes. There will be resistance and there are likely to be those waiting to take advantage of opportunities to throw a spanner in the works.

8 All good things come to an end

Unless a partnership leads to a merger, partnerships will come to an inevitable conclusion. As the EU is heading even more closer towards integration, the UK has decided to get off the carousel. This is not surprising for a country that values its sovereignty. The UK can only play the game for so long before it has to compromise its position. It has always stood out at the decision-making table; at some times standing alone. It will not be a great surprise if other countries also find themselves at the brink of making a decision to wind back their involvement when faced with the decision of further integration.

This is the story of a partnership that grew too big and wanted to go too deep. Had the EU remained at 12 or 15 members, the deepening of the EU might have happened a lot quicker with an equitable balance of economies. Instead, rapid growth led to greater movement of people towards employment in other countries, creating concern for local employment in those countries.

Partnerships are for a purpose. Once that purpose has been served, or when an alternative comes along, the time arrives to dismantle the partnership. That is unless the partnership extends into a merger. Another instance when a partnership ends is because of unresolvable conflict, especially when trust irrevocably breaks down. Some partnerships can be saved by taking an objective view of what is happening in the partnership life cycle and identifying what can be done to move forward again. Inevitably, four out of five strategic alliances and partnerships fail.

80% is a high failure rate. Contributing to this is that very few people, businesses and organisations really go through a process to establish whether the partnership will likely succeed or fail. For many, gut feelings or existing relationships form the basis for the partnership inception. There may be a business case, but no real understanding of the everyday nuances and mechanics of partnerships. There’s nothing to measure during the partnership that identifies problems and enables solutions based on a solid understanding of partnership dynamics. If 80% of the effort were to be put into getting to understand partnerships, to be more objective about the risks and to ensure that the project has solid foundations BEFORE signing any contracts, the rate of failure within the first five years would reduce considerably.

Want to know more? Are you thinking of going into a joint venture or partnership arrangement with one or more entities and feeling a bit apprehensive about whether you’re making the right choice? Don’t be cajoled into doing something you’re not sure about, especially if it involves friends or colleagues. We have designed a system that helps you to work through the need for the partnership, your business case and more importantly, whether you are the right fit for each other. This is the work that needs to happen before you even get to the legalities. It’s based on working with different kinds of partnerships for more than 15 years.

Just Information – Common Misleeding Emails That Lead to Malicious Attacks

Hackers and scammers come up with creative ways to gain control of you and your computer. Unfortunately for us, it’s sometimes very hard to figure out when you are about to be scammed. It’s very important that we know the signs when someone is about to take advantage of us and our computers. Listed below are common scams and tactics that people will use that will then lead to a malicious attack.

1. Phishing Emails

Phishing attempts usually come by form of email. Scammers will send you an email that looks like it has come from a legitimate site, like banks or from stores that you often shop at. Some of the most common forms of a phishing attack include:

* Emails from people claiming to be stranded somewhere. In this type of email, they will ask you to send them money by clicking on an attachment they have sent you. Once you click on the link, the scammers will have access to your private information.

* Emails claiming to be from news organizations talking about some of the biggest news in the world at the time. These emails will ask people to click on the link given so they can then read the whole story. That link will then lead you to a malicious website. This is where the scammers can gain access to your computer’s information.

* Emails threatening to harm you or someone you know if you do not pay the sum of money they are requesting.

2. The Money Laundering Scam

This is one of the oldest scams around. Nearly everyone at one time or another has gotten an email from someone begging you to help them to retrieve their large sum of money from a bank. In exchange for your help, they will offer you a large amount of money.

This is all only the beginning, though, because soon they will be asking you for more money for additional services. At the end of this, you will be left broke and without the promised money. There have even been cases where these people have made a malicious attack on the computer.

3. Greeting Card Scam

This email always looks like it is coming from a friend. However, when you open it, you aren’t surprised with something sweet; you’re surprised by scammers gaining control of your computer. After the “card” is opened, malicious software is downloaded, which is when pop-ups will start showing up all over your screen. You may also notice strange windows popping up on your screen once your computer has been attacked.

There are some very destructive and creative ways for people to gain control of you and your computer. It is often very hard to decipher when you are being attacked. You should always be on the lookout when you get emails. Scammers are always lurking and are just waiting for you to let your guard down so they can take what is rightfully yours. But when you’re always aware, you will be able to prevent yourself from being scammed.

You Choose! – Business Angel or Devil in Disguise

Angels are high net worth individuals who invest on their own, or as part of a syndicate, in high growth businesses. In addition to money, Business Angels often make their own skills, experience and contacts available to the company. This has been immortalised by the program The Dragons Den where people pitch for money and also additional Dragons expertise.

Angels rarely have a connection with the company before they invest but often have experience of its industry or sector. Therefore, the commitment of Business Angels is often very strong.

The majority of Angels make investments for financial reasons. However, there are other motives for investment including taking an active part in the entrepreneurial process, enjoyment from being part of the success of a good investment and the sense of putting something back.

Angels are an important but still under-utilised source of money for new and growing businesses. A typical Angel makes one or two investments in a three-year period, either individually or by linking up with others to form a syndicate. Some Angels invest more frequently. There are approximately 18,000 angel investors across the UK, and around £800m is invested by Angels annually.

It is often thought that you have to be very wealthy to be an Angel Investor, but in fact many individuals invest from around £10,000 in any one company, however some Angels invest much more and money is also tied up for potentially many years. Given that a Angels would generally invest between £10k-£750k as an investment, but are usually in return for a shares. So, most Angel investors will take a portfolio approach and invest in more than one company to give a spread of opportunities to diversify risk.

Angels often invest as part of a group called a syndicate, organised through personal contacts or one of the many Angel Networks. One investor will generally act as a Lead Investor, sometimes referred to as the ‘archangel’, and will act on behalf of the syndicate.

As well as investing money, Business Angels can also bring valuable know-how, contacts and experience to the businesses in which they invest. Investments are made across most industry sectors and stages of business development, but especially in early and expansion-stage businesses. Most prefer to invest in companies within 100 miles of where they live or work although investors in technology companies tend to be prepared to travel longer distances.

What’s The Down Side – With Angels having numerous investments it means that they are not always available when you need or want them. Angels may also appear happy, wonderful people but once they are in a company some of them take on a different persona. They might not be so happy and can sometimes say the wrong thing making you feel embarrassed and unloved. Also an Angel can often require a substantial share allocation and in certain cases become a majority share owner which also has its challenges. An Angel may not see the same as you even when you explain it and could be dismissive suggesting they have seen it all before.

Getting outside investment is a gamble but with the right mindset and business plan and a little rapport they can also be hugely valuable but it is worth considering everything from all different angles before giving away large share allocations as soon as your Angel appears.

Do your homework, know your numbers and follow a plan – it can only be good news when you have taken time to understand your proposition at a granular level!

Do You Know This – Minimize Risks Through The Use Of An Export Documentary Credit

If you want to get into exportation, you must know that the opportunities come with a significant amount of risks. An export documentary credit is among the efficient risks management tools used by season exporters.

Advantages Of Export Documentary Credit

First, it can help minimize the risk of non-payment by your customers. If you issue a documentary credit, the bank of your customer must pay you upon presentation of the export documents.

Second, using this will provide you access to funds without the need to draw from the credit facilities of your company. You just need to present the required documents to your banks. When these documents won’t comply, your bank will provide you with an advance once your documents are accepted.

It is very important for you to choose the right bank to partner with as this can help make sure that you avoid problems related to document compliance.

Who Needs A Documentary Credit?

Companies wanting to minimize the risk of non-payment – This can actually be achieved by utilizing bank channels in order to control commercial documents.

Exporter with customers who are unable or unwilling to provide documentary credit

Companies that need to quickly process documents and resolve payment problems

Companies wanting to provide a very flexible credit term to buyers without the need to compromise their position in cases of non-payment.

How It Works?

You and your buyer must first agree on using this solution as the form of payment. Both of you must sign a contract. After that, your buyer must apply for a documentary credit. The bank, on the other hand, needs to determine if your buyer is credible and qualified. When the requirement of such bank is satisfied, it will then provide the documentary credit. And this document will be forwarded to your bank.

When your bank received these documents, it needs to authenticate the documents and make sure that these adhere to the terms and conditions. Your bank will also notify you that it already received the documentary credit. You, on the other hand, must check if the documents will match the stipulations in your contract with your buyer. When there are discrepancies, you must ask your buyer to resolve such.

You can then ship the orders of your buyer after that as well as present the required documents to your bank. Your bank needs to verify these documents and forward it to the bank of your buyer to request for payment.

Lastly, the bank of the buyer must examine these documents. After which, it will forward the payment to your bank.

Read This One – The Importance Of Taking Calculated Risks In Business

Good risk vs Bad risk

Many people grow up with the belief that taking risks is a negative thing. Whether you are looking to start a business or broaden it, every project brings a risk of failure. It is not good to make decisions as you go along, it is better to develop a strategic plan from the get go. Every opportunity that comes through should accelerate forward to your company’s long-term vision. A good risk is the result of determining needs, distinguishing areas that need growth, creating a strategic plan, and taking it upon yourself to get rid of anticipating omissions.

Most business owners must learn how to take calculated risks, it may not come naturally, but just like everything else, if you want to succeed, you will learn the trait. Recognize the value of risk in business. Taking risks is needed for any business ideal. Without risks, very little is cultivated and customers become easily bored with your product, service or program. Risks open the door to many prospects.

Risks bring change

For a business, risks can bring new markets, new people and new possibilities. Risks force leaders to do away with their fears and take strides to the future of success. Many people are allured to listen to the voice in their head that is telling them, it’s not the right time” or “should I try again, it didn’t work last time.” Learning to get through self-doubting will take you to new levels of success.


Leaders tend to become numb in the business world when they spend too much time thinking about the outcomes and probable mistakes. Over-analyzing before going forward with the plan, weakens the results of the company.

Establish the risks

A big part of calculated risks include pinpointing the probable negatives and creating plans to put out the fires after execution. By recognizing risks ahead, businesses can have a better outcome towards success.

Predict mistakes

Before executing any plans, be prepared for mistakes. They are unavoidable elements in risk taking. In addition, you will have to be prepared to handle the outcomes, tolerate the possibility of failing, and be ready to create and develop plans to turn things around. Consider that a risk is a way for the company to move in a new direction. Mistakes are a natural component of the process of learning.

Take the leap

Just do it! After you weigh all your options, implement a plan and just watch it unfold. The result could be different than what you had predicted. The result could be a failure or a complete success. Regardless of the result, you need to continue taking risks because it builds confidence and brings success to a business.