Business Security and LED Lighting - Light Pollution, Crime, Energy Efficiency of light at your business may make you think you are reducing crime, but that's not always the case. In fact, you might just be stealing dollars from your bottom line and wasting energy without any real benefit. Sure, you can go with LED Lighting, but it still uses energy, so why waste it? Okay so, now that I have your attention, let's talk.

Not long ago, I wrote an interesting piece on the importance for lighting at Convenience Stores, Gas Stations, Car Washes, and other types of business to assist in reducing crime. The essence of that article was to get business owners to consider the value of lighting and also consider the costs. But, as I began to get feedback from the industry and other sources, I learned that business security is not guaranteed to reduce crime, in fact, in some studies, actual case studies crime has not been reduced much at all.

In fact, I was alerted to an interesting research paper from the "Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority on the effect in Chicago Alleys when lighting levels were substantially increased." That is to say "for many types of crime, the increase in lighting levels resulted in higher crime levels - not lower rates." Indeed, Leo Smith (a board member) of IDA or International Dark-Sky Association informed me that;

"Light and crime may not be as related as some might think. Yet there's an inherent fear of darkness in many people."

Thus, in the name of safety and in the name of energy conservation businesses need to use the correct levels of lighting to achieve both goals. Too much light also causes light pollution which is a huge problem for many reasons. Leo Smith also suggests that for instance;"A gas pump island at a convenience store needs no more than 5 footcandles of horizontal illumination on the ground. In perspective, 5 footcandles provides 500 times more light than is provided by a full moon on a clear night - plenty of light to see well for the immediate surrounds. Yet some stores will try lighting to 50 footcandles - a total waste of energy and a major problem in terms of light pollution."

Indeed, mega-thanks to Leo Smith and the entire team at IDA for this valuable information and this research paper. It's great to see empirical data and evidence which business security professionals and small business owners can use to save money and reduce crime. In fact, I've often wondered about that myself, having owned many businesses, and been mostly car wash business.

Mastermind Your Way to Small Business Success - Part 1 concept of the Mastermind was made famous by Napoleon Hill about 100 years ago. In his classic book, "Think and Grow Rich", he wrote about the Mastermind principle as "the coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony."

Dr. Napoleon Hill interviewed the most powerful, wealthiest people of his time so that he could unlock their secrets to success. There was one secret he revealed after 20 years of research. It was that the most successful people never reach the top all by themselves. That might not come as a surprise to you, but have you noticed just how many business owners try to do it all themselves? You might even think that many successful people started with family connections or wealth in the first place. Dr. Hill discovered that was not the case.

He found that the most successful often became that way because they collaborated with other high achievers to supplement their insights or bridge their knowledge gaps. In my own experience in high-level masterminds, I have found that my Mastermind colleagues ask questions that I wouldn't think to ask because I'm so close to the issue at hand.

When in the right Mastermind, you create exponential leaps in mindset, insight, and success. I have found that to be true in my own experiences with Masterminds.

If you've never been part of a Mastermind, I want you to imagine for a moment what would happen to your results (in the most important areas of your life) if the top three things holding you back were instantly removed. Think about it for a few seconds.

What three obstacles are preventing you from achieving your goals? If removing your top three obstacles would make a huge difference and help you achieve your goals, you would benefit from a Mastermind. Throughout history, nearly every great achievement came about because of a team of minds that were engaged in achieving a defined goal.

You know you need a high-level Mastermind Group if you:

• Have very few people to bounce ideas off of. You're "at the top" and need a trusted group of mentors and colleagues to exchange ideas.

• Would describe yourself as a high achiever but performing at a low level. You are not performing to your true potential. You feel like you're settling and that doesn't feel good.

• Are excited but don't know where to start. You're savvy and have been in business a while, but you lack critical knowledge in how to do business in this new marketplace.

• Often feel overwhelmed. This happens when you're working in your business trying to get your task list completed and haven't taken time to work on the essential strategic elements of your business in order to take it to the next higher level.• Feel frustrated and not passionate about your work. Your alarm goes off in the morning, you press the snooze button several times, and dread getting out of bed.

When run well, Masterminds leverage the power of a collective group. Questions are asked that you didn't even know needed to be asked to solve problems and overcome challenges you didn't realize you were about to face. The payoff is priceless!

In Part 2 of Mastermind Your Way to Small Business Success, I'll reveal how to spot when your Mastermind isn't working. I'll also outline the essential elements of highly-successful Mastermind Groups that are designed to stop you from spinning your wheels and start turning your mindset and your business toward prosperity and passion.

Get Your Business Ready for Tax Time - The End of Financial Year end of the financial year is an extremely important period for all pharmacy business owners. It is a time to understand your financial position as well as plan for the year ahead. If you did not have any accurate monthly financial reports last year, now is the best time to start.

The best way to begin is by organizing your bookkeeping systems and financial procedures in order to ensure that you maximize returns and have full control over your pharmacy. This is a critical part of running a successful business.The majority of time business owners, especially pharmacists who work long hours, do not have the available time to accurately organize their financial papers. A bookkeeper however, can help you improve and make the job easy and painless. Generally, bookkeepers are able to take care of all the paperwork and manage the payroll.

Generating and understanding financial rations can be a complicated process. For this reason, it is important to seek a bookkeeper's advice when it comes to analysing your business performance. Bookkeepers are able to give the business owner monthly accurate financial figures and rations in an easy to understand format with an explanation. This whole process can be linked to the pharmacy industry as a whole, which enables you to see how your pharmacy compares with the rest.

There are bookkeepers that specialize in the pharmacy industry, who have the means and experience to further assist pharmacy owners. These specialists know everything regarding pharmacy bookkeeping, from specific suppliers (API, Sigma, Pfizer), to pharmacy wage awards to dealing with service trusts. They are able to deal with processes that pharmacies require, easily and correctly.

Director of a bookkeeping firm, Anatole Kabov says that, "most bookkeepers are unaware of how to process invoices correctly in order to receive the full GST amount back. Entering forward charges can be a complicated process that not all bookkeepers might be familiar with."

Most importantly, bookkeeping specialists are able to identify specific areas to claim back GST and tax. Understanding which monthly adjustments are required in order to generate 100% accurate financial reports for pharmacy owners, banks and accountants. Expertise in these areas is something that general bookkeepers may not be aware of. Anatole says that bookkeepers should "work with the majority of banks in providing financial figures for quarterly reviews... advise clients of specific financial changes to the pharmacy industry, such as wage awards."
The End of the Financial Year is only around the corner, and keeping these tips in mind, businesses as a whole, can see why it is essential to seek professional advice during tax time. Having a professional help with your tax returns is an essential way to make sure you maximize on your returns- making sure that the new financial year is more successful than the last.

Make Networking Part of Your Business to get 'Ted's Toddler Toys' (or whatever) in to the public domain. Eventually, this will require some paid marketing, even if it's just a few words in the local classified ads. But there are numerous ways to get your name out there, that are completely free, and, more importantly, they work

Networking. Don't ignore this, it's crucial to your growth and survival. You've all heard the saying, 'people buy from people', and this is so very, very true.

You may at first be a bit of a shrinking violet, I certainly was, and the mere thought of standing up in a room full of successful, or so I believed at the beginning, business men and women, was more than I could handle.

Don't worry, a lot of people feel the same, although if you're like me, you'll believe that you are the only person there who's quivering in their boots, stilettos, roman sandals, or whatever your preferred form of footwear. I suggest looking around for groups that have been formed entirely for the benefit of new start ups, or those still considering starting up. There are plenty out there, and usually free.

One word of advice, and I am by no means an expert, and would never attempt to imply that I am; I'm just speaking from experience, and from advice given to me. Do not try and sell your business when networking. By this I mean don't cram it down everyone's throat.

Go along to a few meetings or groups; get to know people, and get them to know, like and eventually trust you. Find out if there's any way you can help them. Now, you may be thinking, 'how on earth can I, a complete novice, help anyone else?' You will be surprised.

We all know someone whom others won't know. The person you're chatting away to at a networking event may be further down the line with his business venture than you, but he may need to be put in touch with someone who can provide him with an essential, reliable service. There's every chance you can point him in the right direction. me, it will happen. I was just a few weeks in to running my first business, and at my first networking event, when I got talking to someone who wasn't very happy with his accountant. How about that? I'd recently been referred to a young single mum who specialised in small business accounts. She gained a valuable customer; I gained the respect and trust of both the guy at the event, and the accountant, who by the way, has just joined me in my network marketing business, and also become one of my closest friends.

There are also several online networking groups or forums, most of them free to join, where again you will gain support and advice, without having to meet face to face. Personally, I would suggest considering these as an extra method of getting yourself known, not the only method.

Positioning Your Business So You Can Charge More Money, And Have Happier Customers you're on this page and your business doesn't have a USP, you're exactly where you need to be.

These days a USP is critical to your business. Gone are the days where you can rely on not having any competition. Now you have to make sure you can stand out from the pack, and that your customer knows it!

A USP is a unique selling proposition (or sometimes known as a unique sales position, or some combination of the two). And it is a short (less than 90 words) concise statement that can tell someone exactly what they will get by shopping with you, that they can't get from the competition.

This is critical because if your customer doesn't know what you do... why would they ever try to find you?

You can't talk about USP's without mentioning the one that put Domino's Pizza on the map:

"Fresh, hot pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed."

This tells you everything you need to know about them. This was done in a time when pizza delivery was slow an unreliable. You had no idea when your pizza would get there, and by the time you did get it, it would be cold. This USP is clear, concise, and addressed a need that was missing in the industry at the time. A need that is important to your customers.

Do you remember why you started in business in the first place? Most business owners notice a need in an industry that's going unfulfilled, and they start a business to fill that need. Why did you start up your business?

There are a couple ways you can differentiate your business from the competition. There's price, being 'different', or becoming more targeted.

Price is the obvious way to differentiate yourself, but I urge you to try something else. Unless there's a reason that you can offer a low price that your competitors can't match, you're asking for trouble. All it takes is someone to come in and take less profit for you to lose your position, and there's no glory in being second cheapest.

Positioning your business as being 'different' is a much better way to go. This can be things like offering a bigger selection, a better guarantee, more convenience, better performance, etc. Find something that you can do that none of your competitors can. (Or something that no one knows your competitors does... but make sure you know for certain what your competition is doing!)

Becoming more targeted is also a great option, especially with the internet and the fact that you can now easily run a nationwide company from the comfort of your own home. What I mean by 'more targeted' is by taking a section of your existing customers that have something in common, and position yourself as a solution just for them. An example of this would be an attorney that specializes in elder law, an engineering firm that specifically works on motorcycle engines, or a health food store that sells specifically to hockey players.
A great way to do this would be to find a bias in your existing customers, and target all of your marketing directly to that niche. All customers lists have some kind of bias if you look hard enough. Maybe most of your customers belong to the same religion. Maybe they all drive the same kind of car. If you can find your bias, you've been unconsciously attracting these customers already, now you can consciously go after them.

In this day and age, if you don't set yourself apart from the rest of your competition, you're not going to be able to take your business to the next level (unless you're really lucky... and a business is not something that should be based on luck).