Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Price Is Right.. Come on Down! North Carolina

Tax credits, 3.7 billion dollars in incentives over the past three years, beautiful weather/landscapes, great people, and great business opportunities, and so much more. What's not to like?

North Carolina is continuing to progress itself forward in bringing more business to its cities. As Senator David Hoyle says, "That's a lot of money." While the findings/results of the studies are still somewhat unclear about the success of the programs and cost-benefits, we need to realize that if Dell and Google have taken advantage of it, it probably means its good for businesses.

While Sen. Hoyle and others are doubting the great benefits and trying to quantify everything to the T, let's not waste anytime and move or open-up your business in good 'ole North Carolina.

There is "no value unless a company acts."

Here is the North Carolina Department of Commerce Website
Here is the Charlotte, NC Chamber of Commerce Website

Tell them I sent you.

Then, call me.

Link: http://www.charlotte.com/business/story/403306.html
article written by Jonathan B. Cox


Monday, December 17, 2007

Blackberry vs. Vacation: Zapping All That is Pure

Do you check your waistline every morning and every 5 seconds thereafter? Do you yearn to hear the little email chime? Do you crave to feel like you are involved at all times? Do you start scratching your neck when you have not had a “fix” in a few minutes? Well, my friends, you have a Blackberry addiction. While there will be a plethora of topic discussions on wireless devices (usually very positive), this little soap-box is quite the contrary. And, in light of the Holiday Season, we need to re-align our priorities.

Honestly, this should not even be a topic, but times are a changin’ and I’m a man current of the times. So, what is the point of vacation? The dictionary says:

· a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday: Schoolchildren are on vacation now.
· a part of the year, regularly set aside, when normal activities of law courts, legislatures, etc., are suspended.
· freedom or release from duty, business, or activity.


When we were children, we loved vacation. No homework! Lounge around, see friends, watch TV, and not a care in the world. Now look at us, some of us are even penalized if we take a vacation (not officially, but you know what I’m talking about). It is like the ‘optional football conditioning practices’ coaches hold before the season. It’s not mandatory, but if you are not there, you will not be playing.

But here is a newsflash. This is not football practice, our jobs are what we do everyday of our lives for 8-14hrs a day. Do not sell yourself short for the ‘approval’ of someone else.
Why are we all so willing to risk our health? Family? Fun? Care-free spirit? And, most importantly, our SANITY?!! to get the latest office ‘spam’ update.

So let us go back to the definition: “a period of suspension of work, study… used for rest, recreation…” Where is the suspension from work if you have your Blackberry chiming every 5 seconds? Just get away for a couple days. Give your neck and ears a break from the constant checking.

I am not going on record saying Blackberries are evil; all I am articulating is that vacation is to be refreshing and re-connecting with your bicycle you’ve left in the garage, or your family, or whatever you do to re-charge your mind, body, and spirit.

So, I close this entry imploring you, for the sake of your family, health, and sanity, shut the blackberry down and enjoy some eggnog and *cough* rum *cough* and welcome your vacation/couple days off away from the office, and if you need to, check back here and re-read the three vacation definitions.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

This Isn't Stephen King's "IT"

This post was inspired by this article by Ramon Ray from Entrepreneur.com

IT… An abbreviation that, in this day and age, has fashioned and is fashioning three distinct clusters of biz owners. The first yields, for a minute few business owners, hordes of financial capital. These people are IT GUNG HO!! The second is a collection of people reluctantly embracing IT. They are like people in the movie theater watching the scary movie shielding their eyes, hoping the scene changes. They went to the theater to see the show but did not want to become fully involved with what is happening. And, the final tier may be the majority of small and medium sized business owners, and they view IT as just two letters compounded into a useless abbreviation.

Well, guess what!? It’s here to stay. Whether you want to realize it or not, IT or "Information Technology" is here to stay. You cannot be afraid of it. You need to embrace and snuggle up with it. If you treat it right, it will return the favor with great returns on investment (ROI) and make you a leader in your business / industry.

However, you cannot simply throw capital at it. That would be foolish! The four main issues Mr. Ramon Ray touched upon were: “1) Lack of Education 2) Inability to Prioritize 3) Integrating Information, and 4) Data Protection & Security.” (1/10/2007). I will touch briefly upon them and begin to raise awareness of Information System benefits.

1) Lack of Education
“Ignorance is bliss.” You believe that and your biz. will come to an end. One of the reasons a major telecom. company had problems a few years ago was that we refused to change and accept that we needed to amend how we go about providing services to our clients. We were just the “phone company.” We did not fully embrace IT benefits. Now look at us, we are a mean, lean, telecommunications machine providing amazing solutions for real life business demands. I can say that my clients will not suffer this fate, ever. I always make sure you are constantly evolving and innovating.

You need to keep in regular touch with me. While I do speak with you at least once a month, by keeping me (your IT guru) involved, you will never miss a beat. Staying ahead of the game is what it is always about. Educate yourself.
Do not be afraid to say, to either me or even yourself, “I don’t know.”

Personally, the more I mature, the more I realize, I am not afraid to say, “I don’t know” (obviously within reason). If there is a new product, trend, or process I am unsure about, I’ll ask. That way, I learn it right the first time and I show my peers I want to learn. That is the biggest step you can take. Admitting you are not the best enables you to go out, learn, absorb information, and then become the best. Keep in contact with your IT team, ‘nough said.

2) Inability to Prioritize
“You don’t tie your shoes THEN put them on.” Sure, your shoes look cleaner tied, but if your foot is not in the shoe, it is going to be, well, complicated…. Before we even see what is out there in regards to IT, you need to have your short, mid, and long-term goals figured out. Deciding that you want your team to have continuous access to company data in order to be competitive may be the first step in determining that going with a completely wireless mobile network is better than keeping everything under one roof in an office building. The options are endless.

3) Integrating Information
“All systems go, you are cleared for launch” When NASA (pretty cool site, http://www.nasa.gov/home/index.html) launches a shuttle worth over a billion dollars, they are more than careful when it comes to its release. The weather, time, engineers, medics, mission control, and the hundreds of other teams that are in involved in the completed product and success of this launch are all on the same page in the count-down sequence. If even one thing is off, the entire mission is delayed. Now that is communication. Your business cannot have the silo effect. IT allows for all departments to be integrated.

“This is more than just Microsoft Excel”

I love it too, but business is not just numbers. Going by numbers strictly may hurt you long term. Your numbers guy needs to speak with the marketing guy who needs to meet with HR who needs to meet with the receptionist, who all meet with the CEO frequently. Everyone needs to fuse together and create one efficient organism. Everyone has good ideas. Even the bad ones give insight. By opening the floor to everyone, ideas will flourish. There are IT applications that allow this too. Whether it is ERP, Blackberries, inventory management, etc (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterprise_resource_planning)

4) Data Protection and Security
“Don’t get caught with your pants down” Wear your boxers, wear quality pants, and wear a belt. You skimp on this aspect of IT and be prepared to lose all sustainable competitive advantage, face a couple of law suits because your employees are suing you over their personal information being stolen, and those pictures you scanned from the photocopier of your lovely backside will be available for all to see. Always be prepared. Data back-ups and firewalls are mandatory. You never know what can occur and you want to be pro-active and on the blitzing defensive. That is how the ball game is won.

In closing, meet with your IT employees. Talk to them. Let them know what you are trying to do. If you do not have one, you need to call me. I am your IT contact and consultant. I understand the technologies that I can provide my clients, which may be used for your business advantage. Together we can determine what IT services can be best used to grow your business.

So, you’re in the movie theater, you eyes are covered hoping the scene passes. Do me a favor, uncover your eyes and look at all aspects of the IT scene. Clench and realize, it is not just random gore or suspense too intense to handle. IT is not a scary abbreviation. It’s part of the big picture and it is only getting bigger. You’ll be amazed at how many different pieces comprise an intense scene. Let’s make your business intense and progress it forward.