Your Business Mission – What the Heck Do You Do, Anyway?

Do you really need a business mission statement? Is it just some fancy words to put in that business plan that collections dust on your shelf, or is there really more to it?

One of the key attributes of successful businesses is that they clearly know what they do. Defining the goal or the "mission" of your business can be the key to your success.

A good mission statement does three things:

"States what business you are in." Defines your target market. "Provides inspiration for your business.

One of the best examples of a mission statement comes from Levi Strauss & Co. [http://www.levistrauss.com/Company/ValuesAndVision.aspx]

"We will market and distribute the most appealing and widely worn apparel brands. Our products define quality, style and function. We will clothe the world."

Clothing the world is a pretty lofty goal, but Levi Strauss has the ability to do this for one reason — Their founder, Levi Strauss, started the business with a mission and focus.

Levi started his wholesale dry goods business in San Francisco February, 1853. Rather than hoping to make his fortune in the Gold Rush, he created a fortune by wholesaling clothing and fabric to the small stores supplying the thousands of miners and later, families of the West.

In 1872, he was contacted by Jacob Davis, a tailor who had developed a method to rivet the stress points of the pants he made from fabric he bought from-you guessed it — Levi Strauss. Jacob did not have the funds to patent the process, so he teamed up with Levi Strauss to patent the original blue jean in 1873. The rest is history.

Now, if Levi Strauss was your typical small business, he would probably have spun off in ten different directions in their early years, but the company remained focused on supplying quality clothing and fabrics to the working men and women of the West, and later the world. Rather than focusing on their core market, they would have fallen into the AFAB method … Anything for a Buck.

Most small businesses suffer from this lack of focus.

When we work with struggling business owners, the first thing we ask them is "What is your bread and butter?" What one product or service provides you with the majority of your business profit?

Unfortunately, most business owners can not answer that question. They did not define their core product or service and target market when they started, and end up doing a little bit of everything, and nothing well.

Or, they focus most of their time on a product or service line that they like, without knowing whether it actually is their most profitable.

Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this problem.

You have to determine your gross profit margin from each of your product lines or services. Get together with your accountant, and figure out what you need to do to separate your revenue and expenses by the major product lines of your business. Then, you can find out your gross profit margin, or the percentage of gross profit you receive from each activity.

The product or service with the highest gross profit margin is your core business activity. It is the bread and butter of your business, and the key to your company profits.

Now, you must focus as much of your company resources as possible on this core activity. Market it, systemize it, and turn your business into a machine for duplicating this product or service over and over again.

What happens?

Well, rather than running around like a chicken with your head cut off, putting out fires all over your business, you suddenly have the focus to know where to spend your time and energy. You know your core, and you can work to make a good thing even better.

This focus will transform your business and your life.

Remember the term "Jack of All Trades, but Master of None"? You can not really really good at something without focus, and focusing on your most profitable core product or service will make your business even more efficient.

Does this mean that you should never expand beyond your core? Of course not, but you must make sure you are really good at your core product or service before you venture into different directions. Creating a strong bread and butter business will give you the base necessary to expand.

Your core product or service is the foundation for your business. Build it well.

Vacations Are Possible When You Plan For It

With the spring and summer months right around the corner and summer break right on its heels, most people's thoughts turn towards vacation! My family is no different. In fact, we've been planning all of our vacation time for the past twelve months.

Our goal is to take three trips a year. Two short ones; maybe a weekend trip to another city in our state or a bordering state. And one nice, relaxing, long trip that we have to pack our bags and head for the airport for that lasts seven to ten indulgent days!

For example, about the time our son's April birthday rolls around, we plan a weekend trip somewhere in our state. His favorite is always San Antonio because he likes to visit the theme parks and gorgeous Riverwalk that they have there. Since we live in Dallas, it's less than a four hour drive; and it's usually the precursor to kicking off our year of getting away.

This year, the longer trip will be in the summertime, a week after school is out. We are planning a vacation to Florida to visit Walt Disney World. We will be gone for ten glorious days for fun in the sun.

And then, in October, my husband and I are planning a three to four day getaway to celebrate our anniversary in beautiful Mexico. And that will give us our three getaways for the year! It's as simple as that.

Now, we have not always been able to do this. Why? Because of poor planning on our part. But, that is no longer the case. We've wised up, and if you have not been getting away for a little rest and relaxation because of the same problem, here's how you can guarantee that that will not be the case next year … or the year after that – forever !

My husband, Muri, and I have created what we call a "Battery Recharge" account, or in regular terms, a travel account. All monies that go into it ensure that we'll be able to get away with our ten-year old son, Jordan, or for a romantic weekend on our own!

Have a family discussion and decide where each of you would like to go. Narrow it down, and vote on three locations. One that's far away and two that are within a reasonable driving distance.

Once you've done that, do your research. There are a number of online resources. Thanks to technology, finding attractions in the city of your destination is no more than a click away! You can build an itinerary of what your family will do, as well as get the costs of each show or attraction you'd like to attend.

Then, one-by-one, you begin to fund your "Batter Recharge" account until you have the money to do each trip! What's so great about the two short trips, most can be done for less than five hundred dollars. The key is not extravagance. It's just getting away with your family to bond and re-energize yourself.

You work hard, everyday. Take some time to enjoy the fruits of your labor with the ones you love and cherish. Your mental, physical and relational well-being will be all the better for it!

Happy vacationing!

Ten Reasons You Can not Lose Weight

You may be among many who have attempted to lose weight many times yet remain unsuccessful. You might be thinking, "If only I had the secret!" If you are frustrated, take a look at why weight loss comes difficult. Here are ten pitfalls that slow down or halt the process:

1. Fat Overload . We need protein, but often the sources of our protein are also sources of fat. Fat has nine calories per gram. It is wise to choose foods with unsaturated fat and eat cleaner proteins, such as soy products and whey protein powders.

2. Sugar Overload . By eating candy, cookies, and breakfast pastries, and drinking juice, we tend to consume a lot of empty calories, which digest very quickly in our bodies. The excess gets stored as fat. It is better to satisfy our sweet tooth cravings with fruit.

3. Water Deficit . Water is a miracle nutrient. It can help us to lose weight. Many times we feel hunger pangs and think we are hungry, but our bodies are really telling us that we are thirsty. Water satisfies our cravings and makes us feel fuller.

4. Soda Pop Overload . Many people try to quench their thirst with soda pop. This contributions to the many empty calories that we consume each day. And why put all those chemicals in your body anyway? Switch to water.

5. Alcohol Overload . Alcohol has 7 calories per gram. One 12 oz. bottle of beer has 180 calories. A 24 ounce beer has 360 calories. Your body will break down alcohol calories before it breaks down carbs, fat, or protein. Drinking only one serving a day and counting those as calories is very important.

6. Condiment Overload . It is really important to count condiments in your calorie counting. How much mayonnaise or ketchup are you putting on your chicken sandwich? Yes, and pickles have calories, too.

7. Meal Deficit . It is a whole lot more fun to eat six times a day then three times a day. Eating more often raises the metabolism and improvements digestion, because we consume less food at a time and are able to eat more in 24 hours.

8. Skipping breakfast . Never skip breakfast. You may be eating less food, but you are also slowing down your metabolism. Who wants to drag all day?

9. Burning too few calories . It is difficult to lose weight by only dieting. Exercise is essential. So get on those running shoes and go for a thirty-minute walk every day. Weight training can also really accelerate your weight loss efforts.

10. Lack of goal setting . Weight loss takes time. One should lose only 2 pounds per week at most. It is there important to set short-term and long-term goals so that you can celebrate as you reach miles and continue this lifelong journey.

Now, it is time to throw out all of those negative results and get some positive ones. Get excited, because you are about to begin a successful weight loss journey.

Family Tree Creation: Reasons To Create Your Own Family Tree

What is the purpose of family tree creation? Why would you set out to create a family tree, or even write the genealogy of your family?

For a lot of people, the answer is simple. They want to know where they are descended from. They want to know who was in their family before them and what those people’s lives were like.

But what more can family tree creation mean for you?

Surprising Information

Other than just satisfying the curiosity about your roots, you could stumble on to information that could change your life. Some of the greatest discoveries about people have been made in the process of finding out their family tree. People discover inheritances that were left for them, or family treasures, which they would otherwise never have known about had they not started to look into their family’s past.

A lot of people also discover great stories. Some of these stories have been published and have earned the authors a great deal of money. Alex Haley wrote the biography of Malcolm X, but that’s not what brought him into the limelight. He became famous when he took time to research 7 generations back into his family; he discovered great stories of how lives were lived, how hardships were overcome and successes made. When he wrote Roots, it was an instant hit; people like to read true stories of people who came before them because it validates their existence today.

There is nothing to stop you from doing the same. Perhaps your family tree creation project could turn you into a millionaire too! Each family, each person in your family, had a unique life that’s worth telling about if you can craft it in such a way as to make an interesting read.

Science and Medicine

Family tree creation is also a valuable scientific asset especially when it comes to researching genetics and diseases. There are particular diseases that seem predominant to very small sections of the population, and research into how these people are related, which has been done using family trees, has shown certain groups to all be descended from one gene. In terms of looking for cures, it narrows the scope so that scientists are able to isolate a single gene and deal with it if, for example, they were looking to cure or understand a disease.

Criminology

In criminology, it’s been found that some serial killers have a violent gene that runs ways back through the family lineage. If you have someone who is particularly errant in your family, you might want to trace your roots and learn about the lives of the people in your family who came before you because it could help explain why this particular person is the way they are – there may be people in your family tree who suffered similar problems and it would help to know this as you look for a solution.

Your Legacy

Family tree creation is also a way of leaving your own legacy behind for those who will come after you. There is no better gift to the next generation than handing them their genealogy: they will know from whom they are descended and somehow, this seems to give people a certain satisfaction. If you can put your family tree together for your kids or grandkids, it’s a perfect gift that they too can add onto and then pass on to the next generation – it means that no one in your family will ever go un-noted.

There are all kinds of ways in which family tree creation and writing your genealogy can be of benefit; it’s worthwhile spending the time recreating your family’s history because, unless you do, you will never know what wonderful stories are waiting there for you!