Business Articles

January 25, 2012

HR: How to guard against employee theft

Each and every day, theft occurs.Ironically, it may be more is happening in the workplace rather than on the streets. Studies by the Department of Commerce, American Management Association and other organizations estimate that employees steal about …
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January 24, 2012

HR: Pushing the right button

Not every employee is capable of selling products or services to potential customers. The selling process requires an employee to possess a particular set of interactive and persuasion skills, as well as a compatible personality profile (garrulous, …
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January 24, 2012

Management: Culture eats strategy for lunch

Get on a Southwest flight to anywhere, buy shoes from Zappos.com, pants from Nordstrom, groceries from Whole Foods, anything from Costco, a Starbucks espresso, or a Double-Double from In N' Out, and you'll get a taste of these brands vibrant …
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January 20, 2012

High Tech: How to raise venture capital

If your business is ready to change the world and has a plan for fast growth, it might be time to seek venture capital. But remember that you will pay a price and give up some control over your business.The $21 billion in venture capital that …
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January 16, 2012

HR: A new way to buy health insurance: "exchanges"

On November 18 the US Department of Health and Human Services unveiled according to their press release an unprecedented tool developed for small businesses to find and compare health insurance plans.I was stunned. I had no idea after all these …
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January 13, 2012

HR: Five out-of-date job-search tactics

Is it still correct to use Dear Sir or Madam in a cover letter? a reader asked in an e-mail.That isnt such a great idea, I wrote back. No one uses Dear Sir or Madam anymore, unless theyre actually writing to a madam, such as Heidi Fleiss. Im not …
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January 13, 2012

Management: Five deadly business sins

Just how lethal are Peter Druckers five deadly business sins? You might ask Eastman Kodak (EK), which has committed at least a couple of them and now finds itself on the verge of bankruptcy.Word emerged last week that Kodak, founded in 1892 and for …
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January 12, 2012

Leadership: How great leaders inspire and transform

Several years before I came to Campbell I worked for the CEO of Nabisco as part of his executive team. He asked his direct reports to confidentially take a test designed to provide insight into our ways of thinking. The test results identified me as …
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January 09, 2012

IT: How to move a data center without having a heart attack

As the dust settles in the aftermath of a successful physical data center move, I'm nursing my bruised and cut hands, kicking back with a Scotch, and reflecting on what went right. I said "successful," but actually there's no such thing as a failed …
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January 09, 2012

IT: The year's best hardware, software, and cloud services

Was it the philosopher George Santayana who said, "Those who don't remember the past are condemned to repeat it?" Did he offer any hints for those of us who want to repeat the past, especially the successes? We're beyond the teary elegies of 2011 …
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January 06, 2012

HR: How dysfunctional is your workplace?

People tell me crazy workplace stories all day long and ask me, How bad is my situation, compared with other stories you hear? Sometimes, theyre middle-of-the-road scenarios (your boss and another manager hate each other, and you have to wiggle …
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January 04, 2012

Things are looking…up?

I am an eternal optimist. I always try to look at things from the perspective that a positive response will lead to a positive outcome. The same can be said of the results for several economic indicators recently reported in Northeast Wisconsin. …
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January 03, 2012

HR: Motivating employees - colleagues and customers can inspire creativity

Colleagues and Customers Can Inspire CreativityFrom financial bonuses to extra time off, supervisors are always looking for ways to motivate employees to be more creative and share ideas with colleagues. Psychologist and business professor Adam …
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January 01, 2012

Strategy: Tips from a technophile – How apps can help your business

In case youve been away from civilization for a while, heres a scoop: Mobile apps are a big deal these days. Why? And why replace the excellent browser-based applications of today?Mobile apps arent here to replace anything, but rather to offer …
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December 20, 2011

Sales & Marketing: social media strategies - the science behind emotional connections

At the core of every healthy brand is a really good story. The world’s greatest brands know how to deliver their stories in an ongoing and memorable manner. The job of brand storytelling as a part of a strategic content program is a …
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December 20, 2011

Sales & Marketing: to sell more, answer these questions

The biggest problem small businesses have is selling, says Howard Stevenson, a serial entrepreneur, professor emeritus of entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School, and the author or editor of 11 books on entrepreneurship. A lot of people are …
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December 20, 2011

Technology: iPad may get 2 sizes, 2 debuts in 2012

A new report from Asia suggests that Apple Inc. may offer two iPad sizes in 2012: a full-size iPad 3 in the first quarter and a 7.85-inch version in the second half.
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December 20, 2011

Technology: new ways to captcha bots

Its not your vision going bad: Those blurry words that some websites force you to retype when you log in are getting blurrier. Theyre known as captchas, and theyre designed to stop malicious software from accessing a site and, say, using speedy …
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December 19, 2011

Technology: Google may launch own tablet within 6 months

Google Inc. Google Inc. Latest from The Business Journals Google, private equity firm make solar investmentsGoogle may launch own tablet within 6 months Google tablet could launch by mid 2012 Follow this company may launch a branded tablet device …
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December 13, 2011

Technology: most tablet owners go wi-fi only

Most owners of tablet computing devices like Apple Inc's iPad don't buy wireless service plans, a new report said on Tuesday.Connected Intelligence, a service of The NPD Group, reported that 65 percent of tablet owners in October said they intended …
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December 09, 2011

Business Strategy: design your business model to match your employees

At Nick’s Pizza and Pub, in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, the young people who work in either of its two locations find the culture energizing. Nick, the owner, finds it intentional. As 48-year-old Nick Sarillo contemplated further …
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December 09, 2011

Human Resources: manufacture talent

Faced with an acute talent shortage, employers continue to re-assess how to “manufacture” the talent they need to prosper. For millions of job seekers, this is a frustrating conundrum. Job seekers want to work and have capabilities, but …
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December 09, 2011

Strategic Leadership: Dalton’s strategic growth lesson - stay the course!

I feel blessed to have been mentored and have partnered with such a balanced leader as George Dalton. He was strategic, focused, resilient and persistent; yet open, curious, collaborative and engaging, demonstrating both the power of strength and …
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December 05, 2011

Business Strategy: catering to the senior market – as the baby boomers age

Thats not for me, thats for some old person, quips the 60-something lady on the popular television ad for an emergency alert product. Like many baby boomers she defines, in a nutshell, her generations approach to getting older: utter denial.But …
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December 03, 2011

Risk Management: managing risk in the era of behavior

We are increasingly connected and interdependent. We live and work continents apart but are still in each other's backyardsthat's why high-risk mortgages in Arizona and Nevada can destabilize Iceland's economy, for example. Meanwhile, our systems of …
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December 02, 2011

Management: productivity's four sworn enemies

The biggest time-wasters in the workplace have nothing to do with online shopping.Businesses earlier this week lost about $1 billion worth of productivity, by some estimates, as employees spent Cyber Monday using their workplace computers to do …
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November 29, 2011

Management: You're Probably a Micromanager

My recent post on why people micromanage triggered over 100 comments, stories, and suggestions many of them relating experiences on the receiving end of micromanagement. What was striking was that only two readers actually admitted to being …
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November 23, 2011

Human Resources: new strategies for new employees

Want to get the most out of your next new employee? Business consultant and writer Jeff Haden suggests that companies try something different and take their cues from an old Elvis Presley song: A little less conversation, a little more action.In …
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November 23, 2011

Leadership: The Ambidextrous CEO

Leaders often find themselves struggling when making decisions about supporting the core business while also funding and nurturing the innovative projects on which the long-term future of the business depends. The battles over investment and talent …
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November 22, 2011

Productivity: Restore Yourself to Your Factory Default Settings

My wireless connection to the internet had suddenly stopped working. At first I was frustrated I had been in the middle of browsing some books on Amazon. But I quickly took it as a blessing. I had an article to write and the Amazon browsing was a …
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November 11, 2011

Leadership: Is It Better to Be Liked or Feared?

Youve seen images of professional sports coaches screaming at slumped-over teams in locker rooms. Cut to the corporate boardroom, where you see a terrible two tantrum thrust upon employees.Maybe youve experienced a mild case of power-mongering …
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November 11, 2011

Marketing: The Spark Plug Theory

Henry Ford was not a guitarist.Consider that assertion for a moment. What do you suppose it means? That Ford was a pianist? That his musical tastes leaned more toward Big Band? That he was lacking in manual dexterity? Any (or all) of those …
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November 08, 2011

Human Resources: three types of people to fire immediately

I wanted a happy culture. So I fired all the unhappy people.A very successful CEO (who asked not to be named)We (your authors) teach our children to work hard and never, ever give up. We teach them to be grateful, to be full of wonder, to expect …
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November 07, 2011

Sales: How the Rift Between Sales and Marketing Undermines Reps

It's no secret that sales and marketing executives don't always see eye to eye. In a recent Corporate Executive Board survey, sales executives' top terms for their marketing colleagues included "paper pushers," "academic," and perhaps worst of all, …
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November 02, 2011

HR: How to break up with employees

To Kim N.: Im sorry you were dismissed with anger and haste. To David S.: I wish Id told you that even though you worked with us just 89 days, I dont regret that we gave it a try. To Sam C.: I apologize for sending a signal that we didnt value …
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November 01, 2011

Operations: New Concealed Carry Law has Businesses Weighing Weapons Ban

On Nov. 1, Wisconsins concealed weapons law went into effect, allowing individuals who passed a training course and cleared a background check to carry weapons with them at all times without breaking the law.While the law does allow private …
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October 31, 2011

HR: Afloat in Files?

Information grows each day in every business department, particularly in human resources. With a steady stream of job applications, theres a good chance human resource staff is working extra hard to stay afloat in the sea of records and information. …
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October 28, 2011

HT: Promoting Employees Without Increasing Pay

What risks do small business owners run when promoting employees but not giving them raises? L.C., La Canada, Calif.Such a practice likely lowers morale and engenders resentment among employees who are asked to do more, or to take on more …
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October 17, 2011

Owners: What's my business worth?

Say you own a business. Maybe youre thinking of selling. Know what its worth? Are you sure? Are you sure sure?Sixty-five percent of business owners dont know what their value is, says Scott Bushkie, president of Cornerstone Business Services in …
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October 14, 2011

Leadership: Strategic planning

For some time I subscribed to a magazine called Bottom Line/Personal. This publication offers advice from experts in a wide spectrum of fields, from investments to relationships. Somehow, when I moved to Florida I failed to keep up with this helpful …
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October 01, 2011

Owners: Fix a strained business partnership now

I'm a principal at a startup ad agency, working as creative lead and director of business development. My partner originally agreedthough not in writingthat I would get a 10 percent commission for finding clients. Now that I'm doing the work, he's …
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September 28, 2011

HR: Lower insurance costs with employee incentive programs

October 2011, Focus: Human Resources Lower Insurance Costs with 
Employee Incentive ProgramsWed, Sep 28, 2011 Done right, employee safety incentive programs can lower net insurance costs by keeping workers healthier through reductions in …
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September 21, 2011

Nominate Your Business for Madison's Best Places to Work 2012

Join Madison Magazine and WISC-TV for Madison's Best Places to Work 2012!Any company, not-for-profit or government agency in Dane County and its surrounding counties is eligible to compete for the awards. The survey requires a minimal amount of …
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September 16, 2011

Leadership: What should employees know about the company’s finances?

You’re the owner or senior manager of a small- to medium-sized privately-held business. One day, an employee asks you:What are our annual revenues?What are our gross profits?What are our operating profits?How much does the owner take out?Oops. …
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September 16, 2011

Sales: Frame your questions with context

Shortly after John Paul II became pope, he was interviewed by an Italian journalist, Vittorio Messori. That interview became the best-selling book, “Crossing the Threshold of Hope.” I read the book. It was memorable for many reasons. One …
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September 10, 2011

Management: Blogging for business

Who knew that a blog post warning about the combustibility of oily rags could ignite a firestorm of web traffic on a corporate insurance blog? And yet the popularity of that 360-word article affirms the need that practical information is much …
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August 29, 2011

HR: Social media in recruiting

Using social media like LinkedIn and Facebook to recruit employees is a lot like that big, button-laden TV remote control in your living room: You know theres a lot of capabilities at your fingertips, but its tough to figure out how to use it …
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August 17, 2011

Sales: Call reports show what kind of salesperson you are

Regular readers of this column should understand by now my core mission: to turn the traditional vendor salesperson into a true business resource for prospective customers.The difference between the two extends to everything you do at work. Theres …
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August 16, 2011

HR: Ten tips to recruit the best grads

Struggling economy or not, filling an entry-level position with top talent can prove a challenge. Here, we offer 10 tips your organization can follow to attract and secure the best graduates in your field.1) Know who you really want. Create a …
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August 16, 2011

Management: Why Groupon lacks a viable business model

All right, you caught us. Were actually not making any money. In fact, we are really losing a lot of money.This is the essence of Groupons declaration last week that it will remove the controversial accounting metric called Adjusted Consolidated …
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August 01, 2011

Business owners: Saving for college or retirement - the new mid-life crisis

Like many, he spent his 20s, 30s and much of his 40s advancing his career and building businesses along the way. He put off having children until later in life so that he could provide more financial stability for his family. In 2010, the crisis hit …
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July 28, 2011

Leadership: Five ways to reinvent your business

No business can survive without undergoing change. Customer needs and wants change, and companies must keep pace with those changes.This month Im sharing the story of an international manufacturer headquartered in Janesville, Wisconsin. Its name is …
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July 08, 2011

Management: Project management involves focusing on the details

When Noah was directed by the Lord to build an ark, he was given a specific scope of work and detailed instructions on how to construct it.This is not always true in business when you are required from time to time to submit a quote or respond to a …
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July 01, 2011

Technology: The right device and apps make the office wherever you happen to be

There is a lament about technology that usually begins with the anecdote we put a man on the moon with less computing power than in todays digital wristwatch. Just imagine what those engineers could have done with a smartphone Houston, I think we …
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June 28, 2011

HR: How to make excellence an addiction

This is a new way to look at employee motivation, and it does not start with money.Its great when employees know exactly what you want and have the persistence to stick with it until that goal has been met. When developing a culture of excellence, …
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June 24, 2011

Sales: It's all in the presentation

Think about the last time you went to a movie. Or out to dinner. Heres one thing I can guarantee: You didnt call up the theater, ask what the price of their tickets were, and then pick a feature at random.You didnt randomly quiz a restaurant hostess …
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June 21, 2011

Management: Resources available to help businesses expand overseas

For businesses looking to grow, Fred Monique has some simple advice: Look overseas.More and more companies from across the New North are engaging in international trade and seeing results, says Monique, interim president of the Green Bay Area …
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June 20, 2011

Marketing: Beware of social media backfire

In 1986, I was a long-haired, bearded 22-year-old with a lousy job that paid irregularly. I was also engaged and preoccupied with becoming responsible, not to mention passing muster with my soon-to-be father-in-law. That meant, among other things, …
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June 17, 2011

Management: How to catch a liar

In business, there is no shortage of lies. People tell them at all levelssometimes to seek a payoff and other times to avoid responsibility, some lying with guilt and others lying with a habitual delight. But the complexity of business makes lies …
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June 17, 2011

Summer Reading: Five management classics

Although Peter Drucker was a self-described workaholic, he did take time off each summer to hike amid the peaks of Colorado, reflect on the previous year's successes and failures, and, of course, read.As you head to the beach or the mountains with …
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June 10, 2011

HR: Seek common ground

My work group seems to be the always caught in the middle between other work groups. We provide operational support to a number of departments. As a result, we know whats going on (both good and bad) in a number or work areas. The problem is when we …
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June 10, 2011

Leadership: Focus on what you can control

We live in an uncertain world. How many times have you heard that? Every time I hear it I wonder about a certain world whenever did that exist? This line of thinking leads me to ponder related words, such as trust and security.Security is defined …
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June 01, 2011

HR: Improving business emails

Three suggestions for improving business e-mailsMillions of people use e-mail at work and at home almost every day. But a funny thing happened on the business worlds way to the information superhighway: It left etiquette standing by the side of the …
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June 01, 2011

Management: Five ways business owners cope with rising costs

If you build it, cook it, sew it, ship it, or import it, chances are your cost of business has spiked over the past two years. Even Internet entrepreneurs are feeling the sting of a weak dollar. "As we expand our coverage of hotels in Europe, we pay …
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May 13, 2011

Management: Make Meetings Matter

How many times have you heard someone say, Id really love this job if I didnt have all of these meetings!The topic of time management came up during an appointment with a client who was struggling to get it all done. Her average workweek tops 70 …
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May 13, 2011

Sales: What to Look for in Candidate Interviews

Not long ago in these pages I laid down my own commandments (as I referred to them) of sales leadership. One of them hire wisely, not well seemed to touch a particularly sensitive nerve among business owners and senior sales management. Let me …
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April 28, 2011

Human Resources: This Time, it's Personal

Managers plagued by bad staff morale and sputtering productivity should go take a hike around the office.With so many businesses hunkering down in belt-tightening mode, freezing salaries and even laying off workers, low employee morale and its ugly …
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April 28, 2011

Leadership: What Makes a Leader?

16 core qualities that successful leaders shareIt goes without saying that CEOs are leaders, but how do you know you are truly leading? Thousands of pages have been written on the subject, more than anyone can find time to read. This article …
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April 19, 2011

Sales: Build Rapport Quickly

To a small business owner, one negotiation with a prospect can make or break the company. With so much at stake, quick rapport-building becomes a critical skill. And what is rapport? In business, its simply a framework for information transfer.When …
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April 18, 2011

Management: Spend Time with Your Staff

The most important thing you can do to empower your staff is give them a voice and listen to their ideas. As entrepreneurs, sometimes this can be hard as we are running 100 miles per hour and always thinking about the future. To ensure that people …
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April 10, 2011

HR: Is an associate's degree the way to go in tough economic times?

In todays economic climate, more job seekers are pursuing technical college education. Attracted by projected salary stats, Amy Goebel found herself going back to Moraine Park Technical College two years ago. With her new associate degree in …
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April 01, 2011

Technology: Securing Computer and Office

You're on the verge of launching your business, and whether you have a home business or are leasing office space, you must take certain security measures for your computer and office facility. Two of the common mistakes made with either computer …
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March 14, 2011

Marketing: How to Use Daily Deal Sites to Drive Sales

What if there was a way to drive hundreds (or even thousands) of customers to your business, absolutely free or charge with no risk involved? This is the exact sort of advertising that deal of the day sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial are …
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March 14, 2011

Five Things to Consider About Your Current Banking Relationships

Surviving the Great Recession to this point is an achievement for any business. But now what? Can businesses rest easy knowing that the banks they have partnered with for the last 10 years are going to be there for them for the next 10 years? Banks …
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March 04, 2011

Leadership: The Art of Decision Making

In a 2006 Teradata survey, 71 percent of 1,200 leaders stated that poor decision making is a serious problem. If leaders were asked in 2011, they would continue to say that decision making is a serious problem.Effective leaders know that decision …
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March 04, 2011

Technology: 'To the Cloud'

Because of a new concept, cloud computing, the virtual office has just expanded. You can now access your computer system from anywhere in the world, while using project management, CRM (customer relationship management) and other software …
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February 20, 2011

Marketing: Strategy Before Social Media

How can entrepreneurs use social media to increase their odds of survivability? Based on the advice of local experts, it comes down to first having a marketing and an e-business strategy, and then figuring out which social media tools Facebook, …
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February 15, 2011

High Tech: SWIB makes a move to support Midwest venture capital firms

Spurred by its own 2010 analysis of potential deals in Wisconsin and the Midwest, as well as changing fund-raising patters among some of the nation's top-performing venture capital firms, SWIB will commit $80 million to an investment portfolio …
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February 15, 2011

Management: How to decide to whom to give

Many nonprofit organizations depend on financial and manpower support from area businesses.And many businesses find that giving back is an integral necessity for them as well.Our belief is that we need to be involved in the communities in which we …
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February 15, 2011

Management: The trials and triumphs of operating overseas

Nothing about establishing an overseas presence came easy to Hankscraft Inc. And with labor costs rising meteorically in the last few years in China, where the company employs 300 workers, company president Mark Blume knows he still faces some keen …
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February 15, 2011

Sustainability: Smart thing to do

It's "lights out" at Springs Window Fashions in Middleton, where intermittent darkness is a shining example of the company's commitment to being green. The window treatment manufacturer recently installed motion-sensing lighting in their warehouse …
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February 10, 2011

Human Resources: Use your 2011 strategic plan to chart a course for hiring

As a small business owner, you need to deal with many things, and one of hte most challenging can be human resources. When do you hire people? When do you invest in training, and when do you eliminate …
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February 10, 2011

Management: Dad provided valuable lessons for business as well as life

Whatever my siblings and I craved, he woudl remind us that diligent hard work would likely provide it far faster than wishing and waiting.See page 6.
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February 10, 2011

Marketing: Creation of perfect web page starts with smart use of tags and keywords

Yes, your pages should be written primarily for your site visitors; however, it's the search engines that you need to convince to help bring targeted traffic to your site.See page 4 on the following link.
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February 04, 2011

Human Resources: Communication is critical

Technical skills not enough for managersQuestion: Many of my co-workers have engineering or other technical backgrounds. Ive noticed that its hard for some of them to make the move from independent contributor to manager because their communication …
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February 04, 2011

Management: Numbers don't lie

Strip away emotion, use data to discuss performance recently started working with a client to increase the effectiveness of its sales force. The main problem was that most team members were coasting and in maintenance mode. They werent working hard …
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January 26, 2011

Sales: The 8 Buyer Personas & How to Sell to Them

A while ago at a conference I had dinner with two people. The first, (well call her Janine) I had known since we worked together six years earlier. The second person (Ed), Janine and I had just met.Janine described a sales challenge she was facing. …
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January 10, 2011

Strategies: Serious Steps to Save Paper

Remember the predictions just a few years ago that technology would turn us into a paperless society? It doesnt look like that will happen anytime soon. The American Forest and Paper Association reports that the average American uses approximately …
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January 07, 2011

Leadership: Generation Y

Over the summer, I had the privilege of working with two eager interns (hired by one of our clients), each wearing a flashing neon sign on their foreheads.the one we talk about with leaders we support: MMFI. If you dont already know.give it some …
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January 07, 2011

Sales: The Perfect Cold Call

How are you? A harmless enough phrase, right? Heck, without it, 80 percent of all phone calls would never get started.It seems to work as an ice breaker when we call our friends, colleagues and others that we know, so why not use it as an ice …
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December 20, 2010

Enlightened Leaders Leverage Creativity

I recently participated in two corporate strategic planning retreats. Both followed a conventional agenda define the mission, vision, values, strategic goals, etc. and each facilitator demonstrated appropriate sensitivity to our opinions, ensuring …
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December 20, 2010

Manufacturing is the bright spot in southeastern Wisconsin’s economic outlook

A majority of manufacturers in southeastern Wisconsin have posted revenue gains in 2010 and most are optimistic about future gains next year, according to the 2010 First Business Economic Survey. The survey was conducted by First Business Financial …
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December 20, 2010

No Time Like Now for Team Building

Economic reality means many businesses no longer can afford traditional team-building outings. But can they afford not to? Steve Hirt has just learned that you cant put a price on investing in building personal relationships. The president of …
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December 20, 2010

Quick Response (QR) Codes

Visitors to FaceBooth Fox Cities in September saw an unusual sight in each exhibitors displays.At the back of each display was a black-and-white grid that looked like a crossword puzzle, or an elementary school maze worksheet.Hold up a smartphone …
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December 14, 2010

Employment Law: New Employment Laws you need to Know, and Comply with.

Ripping on a supervisor on your Facebook page, which led to the firing of a Connecticut woman and her subsequent complaint before the National Labor Relations Board, might well be next year's point of employment law. But there is plenty of new …
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December 12, 2010

Employment Law: New Employment Laws you Need to Know, and Comply With

Ripping on a supervisor on your Facebook page, which led to the firing of a Connecticut woman and her subsequent complaint before the National Labor Relations Board, might well be next year's point of employment law. But there is plenty of new …
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December 10, 2010

Human Resources: Training Wheels

Traditionally, companies invest in new technology, new products and services. But how many invest in training programs that pay immediate and long-term dividends?The answer: not as many as it should be.There are three training programs beyond the …
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November 17, 2010

Golden Angels Network Director Sees Significant Uptick in Quantity & Quality of Strategic Buyers

Tim Keane is the Marquette University Entrepreneur in Residence, the director of the Golden Angels Network and a friend of the firm. Tim has bought and sold several companies and also works as an independent consultant with a special focus in …
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November 15, 2010

How You Do Business: Do you have a Code of Ethics?

Whatever the size of your business or how many employees you have even if its just you it is important for a business to have a set policy in place regarding the ethics and conduct that will be the standard for that business, area professionals …
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November 12, 2010

Innovate or Die: Don't Let Stagnation Turn Out your Lights

Remember we first learned about entrepreneurship when we studied that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb? We grew up with it. It helped change the life of Americans for generations. This iconic American invention will now disappear from the …
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