Category Business

Avoiding Merchant Account Chargebacks

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A chargeback is a transaction that an Issuer returns to a merchant bank and most often, to the merchant – as a financial liability. In essence, it reverses a sales transaction, as follows:

* The card issuer subtracts the transaction dollar amount from the cardholder’s Visa account. The cardholder receives a credit and is no longer financially responsible for the dollar amount of the transaction.

Competitive Advantage – Make Your Strategic Plan Your Launching Pad

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Developing competitive advantage in the market place is not the easiest thing to accomplish.

According to Wikipedia,

“Competitive advantage is a position that a company occupies in its competitive landscape. A competitive advantage, sustainable or not, exists when a company makes a profit, that is, their earnings exceed their costs.. That means that normal competitive pressures are not able to drive down the firm’s earnings to the point where they cover all costs and just provide minimum sufficient additional return to keep capital invested. Most forms of competitive advantage cannot be sustained for any length of time because the promise of profits invites competitors to duplicate the competitive advantage held by any one firm.

Ethics in Business – From Compliance to Commitment

By the time this article goes to print all of us will surely have had our fill of news reports about Conrad Black’s infamous lawsuit. We’ll likely be numb to the never ending allegations of fraudulent practices at Nortel. But, how many of us as human resource professionals will be asking, ‘What does this have to do with me?’

Write A Great Resume: 10 Strategies That Work

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Learning to write an effective resume is a life skill most people cannot afford to ignore.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median tenure for most professionals is about 4 years. For employees between the ages of 25 and 34, the median tenure is only 2.9 years.

Since most of us will change jobs a number of times in our career, we need to become proficient at selling ourselves and writing an effective resume.

Consider this: According to Career Builders’ Resume 2007 survey, on average, hiring managers receive 50 resumes for each and every job opening. Due to the sheer number of applicants, many managers skim and sort the resumes into “no go,” “maybe,” and “looks promising” piles.

The REAL Reason People Aren’t Buying (You’ll Be Surprised)

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Last week someone in a business discussion forum posted this question:

“Help! No One is Responding to My Offer”

The person posting, let’s call her Susan, went on to say that she loves her work and gets great results for her clients. She’s excited about a new service she’s promoting, yet no one was responding to her emailed offer.

Now Susan is no slouch when it comes to marketing. She sold classified advertising for a big city newspaper, she’s been to lots of marketing and sales classes, and has a stack of marketing-related books on her desk.

Learn From History – The Anatomy Of An Economic Meltdown

When we look at the current economic crisis, lots of people are
asking how we got into this mess. This story walks out the steps
the brought us into the current economic meltdown, prompted by
the recent credit crisis.

The Role of Hunger in Your Business

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Hunger and fear are good for your business. Not abject hunger and despairing panic, mind you. That’s too much. But a little touch of hunger and fear is very useful.

I know there are many people out there who would prefer that not to be the case. And I’m one of them. I wish inspiration and love were big enough motivators for action. But for us humans who aren’t yet enlightened, they don’t seem to work so well.

The problem is complacency. We most often don’t do things until we absolutely have to.

I’ve watched it happen–a client’s savings account dwindles down over time while they are stuck in fear or uncertainty about what to do or how to do it. Perfectionism has it’s tight grip on them.

Then the account hits zero, or whatever feels like “zero” to the person in question. And suddenly they leap into action.

Sound familiar? This is the mother of all feast-or-famine cycles. If you stay in that kind of a cycle, then your business can’t ever move much higher than the ground floor.

But before we go about seeking a fix, let’s take a look at the Sufi teaching that explains why this can be a good thing.

Lashed With Hunger and Thirst

There’s a Sufi story that goes like this: Source, aka God, aka The Divine, was talking to the ego, asking it to leave off injuring itself with various addictive behaviors and surrender to Source. “Am I not Your Lord?” The Divine asked in its inimitable Divine fashion.

The ego responded. “I am what I am, and you are what you are, “continuing right on with what it was doing. The Divine then plunged the ego into fire in order to purify it–kind of like putting metal into fire to burn away impurities.

The result? Nada. Twelve thousand years of fire and the ego is still clinging to its self-destroying patterns.

The Divine then plunged the ego back into the fire adding just a touch of hunger and thirst. Immediately the ego released its grip and allowed itself to be purified.

Yes, I’m talking about us.

The Difference Between Pain and Survival

What this short Sufi story outlines is the difference between pain and survival. Humans have an almost unfathomable capacity to deal with pain and suffering, but we have very little capacity to risk our own survival.

This is one of the reasons that I think this financial crisis is actually going to be healthy for us in the long run; by threatening our survival, it’s making people take actions that could’ve been done gracefully awhile ago. It’s painful, it’s scary, and a lot of people will end up being hurt. Yet apparently it’s necessary. And some of the actions we’re forced to take now may serve us well over the long term.

But that’s a far larger topic than I want to delve into, so I’ll just say that and move on.

Move on? Now you know complacency is a normal human state of being until hunger and thirst are added. So instead of just living with it, let’s move on to how to get your business fanny in gear without your bank account or some other survival button being pushed.

Keys to Hunger-Motivated Business

What else besides (lack of) money threatens your survival?

One of the reasons it works so well to declare goals before witnesses is because your identity as someone with integrity is threatened if you don’t follow through, and your ego sees this as akin to survival. It can be a bullying approach, so I recommend some measure of compassion in it, but it can also be very effective.

Take a moment in your heart to identify what qualities are core for you, such as integrity, generosity, or love. Now put them in play, usually with others’ help, by setting goals your ego will fight for.

It’s a little tricky, but then, so is the ego, and it’s okay to push the ego a bit, if the deeper intention is truly from your heart.

Here’s an example: In the recent Path to Profitability Retreat, we prided ourselves on holding a spiritual container that allowed participants to go deep into their processes. In order to provide that, we needed to double up on our own spiritual practices. So we did. It just so happens that both Holly and I have had a
commitment to deepen our spiritual practices, and this goal helped get us there.

Use actual hunger or thirst to weaken your ego.

One of the key spiritual practices in nearly any tradition is the ascetic practice of fasting–avoiding food or water or both for a set amount of time.

Fasting weakens the ego. Whether it’s Ramadan, Yom Kippur, or
Lent, devoted followers often report a purity of heart after
fasting. The benefit of this purity of heart means that the
ego’s grip is looser, and the heart’s intention and inspiration
is more available.

Try taking a single day and, if it’s not dangerous for you medically, fast. Don’t eat or drink for twelve hours. Keep up your meditation and prayer practices during this time to support
the process, and notice how you feel afterwards.

It seems like an impractical business suggestion, but spiritual traditions around the globe have recommended fasting and prayer before big projects or decisions. It creates that sense of purity
and resolve that can get you moving forward clearly and in a big way.

Choose the middle path.

While fear of survival can get you moving, too much can paralyze you or make you sick. Don’t fast too much. Don’t let your bank account go too low. Don’t set goals you don’t have a chance of reaching.

The ego has all kinds of built-in mechanisms that can support you in your business, and fear of survival is one of them. You don’t have to think it’s wrong as a motivator, it’s actually very holy. But be conscious of how it works, and use survival with love and intention.

The best to you and your business,

Mark Silver

———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— –
Mark Silver is the author of Unveiling the Heart of Your
Business: How Money, Marketing and Sales can Deepen Your
Heart, Heal the World, and Still Add to Your Bottom Line.
He has helped hundreds of small business owners around
the globe succeed in business without losing their
hearts. Get three free chapters of the book online:
http://www.heartofbusiness.com

Get the Balance Right

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One of the questions I get most regularly from associates throughout our company is “how do I build a successful business and maintain a quality family life?” I don’t believe there is one perfect answer to that question because people’s circumstances and attitudes on this subject can vary substantially. I do think, however, there are some common sense things which my wife, Cindy, and I have done over the years to give us simultaneously a great family and business life.