The Oakland County area has an abundance of opportunities for existing businesses and new ventures.
When the going gets rough, the entrepreneurial spirit gets creative and resourceful.
The Oakland Press has gathered upcoming events, news and links to help business owners and professionals succeed.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Job seekers: Don’t fall for these 10 tricky interview questions

With an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, there are a lot of job seekers out there. The way these potential employees will get hired starts with the dreaded job interview, says Joyce Lain Kennedy, author of “Job Interviews For Dummies."
 “Job interviews are still those crucial meetings that seal the deal on who gets hired and who gets left on the outside looking in,” says Kennedy,
“And with any good job interview come questions that always seem to trip us up.”
So, you ask, what’s the best job interview response to all questions?
 “It’s the one that adds up to ‘Hire me!’” says Kennedy. “But recruiters report that high numbers of job seekers blab negative information without realizing they’re making a farewell address to a job opportunity. Hang in there! With the proper preparation, you can begin to give slam-dunk answers to any interview question.”
Following are ten primetime tricky probes and advice on how you should answer them to land your dream job:

1. Why have you been out of work so long? How many others were laid off? Why you? This quizzing could cause you to reveal that there’s something wrong with you that other employers have already discovered. The interviewer is fishing to determine whether there was a layoff of one and you were it. Or whether your former manager used the theme of recession and budget cuts to dump groups of second-string employees.
 “Any direct answer to why you were included in a reduction in force is risky because anger toward your former managers could pop up, raising doubt about your self-control,” says Kennedy. “A better idea: Punt. Shake your head and say you don’t know the reason, because you were an excellent employee who gave more than a day’s work for a day’s pay.”

2. If employed, how do you manage time for interviews? The real question is whether you are lying to and short-changing your current employer while looking for other work. “Clearly state that you’re taking personal time, and that’s why you interview only for job openings for which you’re a terrific match,” advises Kennedy. “If further interviews are suggested, mention that your search is confidential and ask if it would be possible to meet again on a Saturday morning.”

3. How did you prepare for this interview? Translation: Is this job important enough for you to research it, or are you going through the motions without preparation, making it up as you go? “The best answer?” says Kennedy. “You very much want this job, and of course you researched it starting with the company website.”

4. Do you know anyone who works for us? The friend question is a two-way street. “Nothing beats having a friend deliver your résumé to a hiring manager, but that transaction presumes the friend is well thought of in the company,” notes Kennedy. “If not—ouch! Remember the birds-of-a-feather rule: Mention a friend inside the company only if you’re certain of your friend’s positive standing.”

5. Where would you really like to work? Doing what? The real agenda for this question is assurance that you aren’t applying to every job opening in sight.
“Caveat: Never, ever mention another company’s name or another job,” says Kennedy. “A short ‘Hire me!’ answer is a version of: ‘This is the place where I want to work, and this job is what I want to do. I have what you need, and you have what I want. I can’t wait to get to work here.’”

6. What bugs you about coworkers or bosses? Develop a poor memory for past irritations. Reflect for a few moments, shake your head, and say you can’t come up with anything that irritates you. Continue for a couple of sentences elaborating on how you seem to get along with virtually everyone.
“Mention that you’ve been lucky to have good bosses who are knowledgeable and fair, with a sense of humor and high standards,” advises Kennedy. “Past coworkers were able, supportive, and friendly. Smile your most sincere smile. Don’t be lured into elaborating further.”

7. Can you describe how you solved a work/school problem? This forthright question is tricky only in the sense that most job seekers can’t come up with an example on the spot that favorably reflects on their ability to think critically and develop solutions.
“The answer is obvious,” says Kennedy. “Anticipate a question about how your mind works and have a canned answer ready. A new graduate might speak of time management to budget more time for study; an experienced worker might speak of time management to clear an opportunity for special task force assignments.”

8. Can you describe a work/school instance in which you messed up? The question within a question is whether you learn from your mistakes or keep repeating the same errors. A kindred concern is whether you are too self-important to consider any action of yours to be a mistake.
“Speaking of mistakes, here’s a chance to avoid making one during your job interview,” notes Kennedy. “Never deliver a litany of your personal bad points. Instead, briefly mention a single small, well-intentioned goof and follow up with an important lesson learned from the experience.”

9. How does this position compare with others you’re applying for? Are you under consideration by other employers now? The intent of these questions is to gather intel on the competitive job market or get a handle on what it will take to bring you on board.
“You can choose a generic strategy and say you don’t interview and tell, that you respect the privacy of any organization where you interview, including this one,” says Kennedy. “Emphasize that this company is where you hope to find a future and ask, ‘Have I found my destination here?’”

10. If you won the lottery, would you still work? This question goes to your motivation, work ethic, and enthusiasm for work. “The ‘Hire me!’ answer is this,” says Kennedy. “While you’d be thrilled to win the lottery, you’d still seek out fulfilling work because working, meeting challenges, and scoring accomplishments are what make most people happy, including you. Say it with a straight face.”

A Little Extra Help: What to Say When You’re Uncertain. If a hardball question comes at you out of left field, try not to panic. Take a deep breath, look the interviewer in the eyes, and comment that it’s a good question you’d like to mull over and come back to. The interviewer may forget to ask again.
“But if the question does resurface and your brain goes on holiday, say that you don’t know the answer and that, being a careful worker, you prefer not to guess,” recommends Kennedy. “If you’ve otherwise done a good job of answering questions and confidently explained why you’re a great match for the position, the interviewer probably won’t consider your lack of specifics on a single topic to be a deal breaker.”
“As with most things, in the world of job interviews, practice makes perfect,” says Kennedy. “Familiarize yourself with these tough questions. Ask a friend to conduct a mock interview where you answer only tricky questions. Once you’ve had enough practice, the real deal will be a breeze.”

About the Author:
Joyce Lain Kennedy is a nationally syndicated careers columnist. CAREERS NOW appears twice weekly in newspapers and on websites across the United States. She is the author of seven career books including “Resumes For Dummies,” 6th Edition and Cover Letters For Dummies®, 3rd Edition.


For a copy of "Job Interviews For Dummies," contact Dottie DeHart, DeHart & Company Public Relations, by email at dehartdottie@aol.com.

Friday, January 27, 2012

IMPACT 2012 features business building sessions

Automation Alley’s IMPACT 2012 conference is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 at Centerpoint Marriott, 3600 Centerpoint Parkway, Auburn Hills. The day will begin with a keynote panel moderated by Carol Cain, columnist at the Detroit Free Press and featuring: Dave Morris, manager of corporate research, Michigan Economic Development Corporation; Michael Fezzey, president, Huntington National Bank: East Michigan Region and Tim Bryan, chairman and CEO, GalaxE.Solutions. The cost to pre-register in advance is $69 for members and $99 for nonmembers.  The event will come to a close with networking and a cocktail reception from 3-5 p.m. There will be a chance to win raffle prizes, appetizers will be served and a cash bar will be available. Sponsorships are available. To register, email info@automationalley.com or call 800-427-5100.


Breakout session topics include:
•    Helping Find the "and" in Your Brand, Jamie Michelson, President, SMZ Advertising
•    Ideas to Help Grow Your Small Business in the Cloud, Gary Montgomery, Chief Sales Officer, Trillium Teamologies, Inc. (TTI)
•    Crucial Conversations for Conflict Resolution, Douglas L. Finton, Managing Director, Vital Skills International LLC
•    LinkedIn for Business, Brenda Meller, Director of Marketing, Walsh College
•    Introduction to the Pure Michigan State Trade Export Promotion (STEP) Program, Jeanne D. Broad, International Trade Development Manager, Michigan Economic Development Corporation
•    Tapping Into the Talent Pipeline, Jennifer Bowden, Director of Career Services, Davenport University
•    Technologies Every Marketer Must Master, Kevin Miller, EVP Marketing and Sales, SalesFUSION, Inc.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Is this the best use of my time?

Sometimes I find myself doing a task that is taking way more time than I thought it would. With unrelenting dedication, I usually plod through it. Not anymore. I will now ask myself, “ Is this the best use of my time?”
If  I can’t say yes, then I will change what I’m doing. Here are some time savers that I learned from surfing the internet on my free time, (was that the best use of my time? Uh no, but it was fun and hopefully informative for readers).

1.   Set high expectations for every day.
Before starting work, establish your priorities and the order which you will do them. It is best if you can have quiet time to start the day for this. It also helps to write it down. Monday is a good day to establish your goals for the week, on one page.
When prioritizing, keep at the top of the list the things that generate income or were assigned by your bosses.

Order
Put away stuff that you are not working on, so your desk is uncluttered. It’s less distracting. Only work on one thing at a time.
Divide seemingly overwhelming tasks into small increments and attack them one at a time.
Purge files annually, and make a pending file of papers that need attention soon. Also create a future file, with dates for papers that need to be handled at a certain time.

3.   Delegate
Ask, what can others do for you? If you delegate, the best thing to do is hand it over to them with clear instructions of desired results. Then, let it go, don’t micro-manage or it will take too much of your time.
When possible write down the instructions for them, it will reduce interruptions.

4.   Meetings
Often, the majority of people in meetings don’t really need to be there. Maybe you don’t either. You can ask the meeting organizer, (unless it’s you), whether you can submit a report or just attend for a segment of the meeting.

5.   Speed reading
This is another one that I plan to work on. Being able to read through stuff fast is definitely a time saver. There is speed reading software available, even your Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Dynamics. Here are things I've read while surfing the internet: "don't subvocalize," the words, just think about the meaning of phrases and "keep moving," don't ponder. Also consider whether it's important to you now, later or never. If it's an email, I scroll down to see how long it is and to get the gist of what it's about.

6.   Email and other correspondence
It’s always nice to see what has come into your inbox, but it doesn't need to be the focus of your day, unless it’s from your boss or best client. Scan your inbox, and see if anything needs urgent attention. If you haven't already done so, make folders organizing by subjects or status level and file emails to the folders. You don't need to process emails, first thing in the morning — your most critical time of day.
 
7.   At home
Plan your outfit the night before and prepare your lunch. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.
Plan what you are going to do personally for your next weekend, on Sunday night. Then maybe you won’t think about work when you go to bed.


Future
Write down your personal and professional goals for five years and review them every now and then.
I wrote down some goals, approximately 10 years ago, and then lost the note in my desk. Although I’m not sure what date I wrote the goals, I had accomplished two of the three in about five years. So maybe it really works. It sure didn’t hurt.

If you have any time saving ideas, please share them. Work is more rewarding when you feel like you’re accomplishing things.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Business Leaders for Michigan optimistic

BUSINESS LEADERS FOR MICHIGAN 4Q ECONOMIC OUTLOOK SURVEY: 
More optimistic about long-term outlook for both US and Michigan

DETROIT, Mich., January 17, 2012 – A survey of Business Leaders for Michigan (BLM), the state’s business roundtable, shows that the state’s largest employers are increasingly optimistic about Michigan’s short and long-term economic outlook.  “Michigan’s largest job providers are getting downright bullish on the state’s economic prospects and backing it up with increased hiring and investment,” said Doug Rothwell, President & CEO.  “Business leader optimism about the state’s long-term economy is at a three year high and nearly a third of the largest job providers are planning increased hiring and investment in the next six months.”


Highlights of the survey of Business Leaders for Michigan include:
  • Business leaders are beginning to feel more positive about the economy’s near-term outlook, reversing a trend of increasing pessimism that began at the start of last year.  However, business leaders are far more optimistic about Michigan’s economy over the next 6 months.
  • Business leaders are more optimistic about the long-term economy for both the US and Michigan. The 18-month forecast for Michigan is the highest it’s been since BLM started compiling these forecasts in 2010. 
In this quarterly economic survey, BLM members were also asked about the impact of the new Michigan Corporate Income Tax, job growth and investments in Michigan. 
  • 53 percent of Michigan’s largest employers will pay “about the same” or more under the new Michigan Corporate Income Tax.  Some will pay as much as 20 percent more.
  • 67 percent added jobs in Michigan last year. Many of these jobs were full-time engineering and skilled manufacturing positions.
  • 75 percent invested in Michigan in 2011. Much of the investments came as infrastructure and capital investments.
“Most of Michigan’s largest companies didn’t get a tax break under the new state corporate income tax but supported it because it was the right thing to do to create jobs,” said Rothwell. “Two thirds of our members either added jobs or increased investment in Michigan over the past year demonstrating the importance of large and small job providers to the state’s economy.”


The results reflect a survey of Business Leaders for Michigan’s 80 executives, the state’s largest private sector job providers that represent nearly one-quarter of the state’s economy.

Quarterly Economic Outlook Reports are available at businessleadersformichigan.com/research-and-reports.



About Business Leaders for Michigan:
Business Leaders for Michigan (www.BusinessLeadersforMichigan.com), the state’s business roundtable, is dedicated to making Michigan a "Top Ten" state for job, economic and personal income growth. The organization is composed exclusively of the chairpersons, chief executive officers, or most senior executives of Michigan's largest companies and universities, which contribute nearly 25% of the state’s economy and provide over 320,000 jobs in Michigan, generate over $1 Trillion in annual revenue and serve over 135,000 students. The organization’s work is defined by the Michigan Turnaround Plan, a holistic, fact-based strategy to get Michigan’s economy back on track. Visit www.michiganturnaroundplan.com for more information.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

January brings a flurry of business events

There are many reasons to attend business events. In addition to networking, these gatherings help energize attendees. Taking a few hours to attend a workshop, seminar or meeting can pay off in inspiration, gathering ideas and face-to-face interface with people with similar goals.
 It seems like everyone is going full speed ahead with events for January. The Oakland Press calendar is full of creative happenings. If you have an event, please be sure to enter it on the calendar page at TheOaklandPress.com/calendar

Or see the Business calendar page and Submit an event links in the right column of this page.

Happening this week:

TROY
Jan. 17: Investment seminars
Troy-based LJPR, LLC, a financial advisor and wealth management firm, is hosting a seminar series that targets key areas to reduce uncertainty for attendees. The first seminar of the Reducing Uncertainty series is Economic Outlook for 2012, which will be held 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17. Reducing Uncertainty in your Estate Plan will be 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24 and The Lost Art of Etiquette will be 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31. RSVP is required for the free seminars. Email events@ljpr.com or call Lisa Sullivan at 248-641-7400. All seminars will be held in the Troy Michigan Schools and Government Credit Union Building (Lower Level) 4555 Investment Dr., Suite 304, Troy.

BIRMINGHAM
Jan. 17: The Business Performance 2.0 Executive series is from 4-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17 at the Birmingham Tower, 280 N. Old Woodward, Birmingham. Meetings will discuss topics related to business ownership, problems and solutions, avoiding common mistakes and pitfalls, legal issues, taxes raising capital, getting started and operating a business successfully. To register, visit http://www.bizimpteam.com/events or call Paulette at 248-641-8400.

AUBURN HILLS
Jan. 18: Auburn Hills chamber hosts Palace president
The Auburn Hills Chamber of Commerce welcomes Palace Sports & Entertainment President Dennis Mannion as he speaks at the Pistons VIP Club inside the Palace of Auburn Hills. The luncheon is 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18. This ticketed event includes a catered lunch, raffle prizes, and an optional tour. Registration is required through www.auburnhillschamber.com or by calling 248-853-7862.

TROY
Jan. 18: Working the trade show
Working the Trade Show Effectively: Training your Staff for Success is 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18 at Automation Alley Headquarters, 2675 Bellingham Drive, Troy. Anita Mitzel, president of GraphiColor Exhibits, will provide a comprehensive review. Pre-registration for members is $20 and $40 for nonmembers. It is $30 at the door for members and $40 for nonmembers. Visit automationalley.com.

FARMINGTON HILLS
Jan. 18: SCORE business website workshop
In one of their series of workshops for small business, Detroit SCORE Chapter 18 is presenting “Create Your Business Website Workshop” is 5 to 8:30 p.m., Wed., Jan. 18, at Farmington Community Library, 32737 W. 12 Mile Road, Conference Room A, Farmington Hills. The cost is $45. Visit www.detroit.score.org or call 313-226-7947 to register.

SOUTHFIELD
Jan. 18: The Better Business Bureau Business Card Exchange is a free networking event featuring business change expert and best selling author, Lisa Mininni at 26999 Central Park Blvd., Suite 165, Southfield. Lisa will share how to increase your results by “Sealing the Deal 98 percent of the time.”

TROY
Jan. 18: Northwood University’s Troy Program Center will host an information session for adult learners at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan.18 at 1900 W. Big Beaver Road, Suite 200, Troy. Northwood’s Adult Degree Program provides the flexibility students need to succeed in their educational goals. Northwood’s specialized business degree programs in Management, Marketing, and Health Care Management allow students to combine evening, weekend and online courses to fit their schedule. Administrators will also discuss how college credit can be earned for work and life experiences and the financial aid process will be explained. To register, call 248-649-5111.

WATERFORD TWP.
Jan. 19: Writing a business plan
Fundamentals of Writing a Business Plan is 9 a.m. to noon, Thursday, Jan. 19 at Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road, Waterford Township. The fee is $30. Visit oakgov.com/peds/calendar or call 248-858-0783.

TROY
Jan. 19: Troy chamber meeting
Nationally-renowned economist, David Littmann, will keynote the Troy Chamber’s January breakfast meeting, “SE Michigan Economic Forecast: Presiding Over Michigan’s Economic Comeback,” 8 to 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 19 at the Troy Marriott, 200 W. Big Beaver Road, Troy. The event is presented by Flagstar Bank. The cost of the event is $27 for Troy Chamber members and $40 for non-members, in advance. RSVP to 248-641-8151, theteam@troychamber.com or www.troychamber.com/cal.

SOUTHFIELD
Jan. 19: Victor Saroki to speak
Birmingham architect Victor Saroki will speak at the Entrepreneurial Lecture Series on Thursday, Jan. 19, 5:45 to 6:30 p.m. in Lear Auditorium (T429) of the University Technology and Learning Center at Lawrence Technological University, 21000 W. 10 Mile, Southfield. The free event is open to the public.
Saroki has led Victor Saroki & Associates Architects PC for more than 25 years. The firm’s commissions include theaters, restaurants, retail spaces, galleries, hotels and residences. His work has won more than 60 design awards and has been recognized in dozens of publications. Saroki is president elect of AIA Michigan, and Saroki & Associates was named AIA Michigan’s firm of the year in 2007. The Entrepreneurial Lecture Series is sponsored by WWJ Newsradio 950, the Great Lakes Innovation and Technology Report, the Lawrence Tech chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization, and the Legends entrepreneurial alumni organization.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Free seminars on starting a business offered

Those thinking about starting a business, or who have recently started one, are encouraged to attend a free “Fundamentals of Starting a Business” workshop offered by the Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center.
This two-hour introductory seminar covers readiness to be in business, market research and will provide information and tools to start writing a business plan.
The following classes are scheduled in Flint: 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17; 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2; 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, February 21; 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, March 8; and 9 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 20. The following are scheduled in Lapeer at MCC:  9 to 11 a.m. Monday, Jan, 23; 9 to 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 13 and 9 to 11 a.m. Monday, March 12. Attendees must register in advance for the free seminar at www.misbtdc.org or call 810-762-9660. Search the “Business Startup” topic and find “Fundamentals of Starting a Business.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Franchise business jobs projected to grow 2 percent

Franchise business jobs projected to grow 2.1 percent, an increase of 168,000 jobs in 2012. After three years of restrained growth, due to the recession, franchise businesses show signs of recovery in the year ahead, according to a report by IHS Global Insight for the International Franchise Association Educational Foundation. The Franchise Business Economic Outlook: 2012 forecasts modest growth in the number of establishments, employment, output and contributions to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).
According to the report, franchise business growth has been restrained over the past three years due to underlying factors, such as the weak rebound in consumer spending, that have been a drag on the economy as a whole. In addition, tighter credit standards have limited the formation of new franchise small businesses and the expansion of existing businesses. As these conditions improve, the IHS Global Insight report forecasts an acceleration in the number of franchise businesses in 2012 and continued modest growth in employment and economic output.
"The forecast for modest growth is good news for the franchise industry and the overall economy, given franchising supports 12 percent of the U.S. private sector workforce," said IFA President & CEO Stephen J. Caldeira. "However, the rate of growth is far below the growth trends we experienced before the recession. Franchisors and franchisees continue to identify access to credit as the major hurdle to business growth. Two-thirds of franchisors say they have seen "no improvement in credit access in recent months," compared to nearly the same result in an August survey (67.6%). More than 80 percent of franchisors say that limited access to credit continues to have a negative impact on their ability to expand. Nearly half (44.4%) of franchisees report "no improvement in access to credit" in recent months.
While franchisors are optimistic about plans for expansion in the number of establishments in 2012, they are less optimistic about an increase in same store sales or adding jobs — compared to the survey one year ago.
Nearly 85 percent of franchisors say they plan to increase the number of establishments in 2012, with more than one-third (34.9%) saying they plan increases of 6 percent or more. 
In general, franchisees are less optimistic than franchisors about the prospects for improved consumer sales in the year ahead. Two-thirds (66.6%) of franchisees expect to see moderate to significant increase in sales in 2012. 
Nearly half (46.2%) of franchisees say they expect to add jobs in the year ahead, with 15.4 percent saying they expect a significant increase in the number of jobs (6% or more).  One year ago, nearly half (47.1%) said they expected to increase the number of jobs, with 5.9% who said they expected a significant increase.

Submitted by International Franchise Association, Washington DC. For more information about International Franchise Association, visit franchise.org. For IHS Global Insight, visit www.ihs.com.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Survey: Saving takes priority for young adults this year

From The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and The Ad Council

Young adults have made saving a priority this year – ahead of losing weight, living healthier and other typical New Year’s resolutions – as financial concerns take a toll on their friendships and personal lives, according to a new survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Ad Council.

The organizations released the results today to coincide with the launch of a new series of public service advertisements on behalf of their national Feed the Pig financial literacy campaign, which helps 25- to 34-year-olds take control of their finances and add saving to their daily lives.

According to the survey, nearly three in four young adults in the Feed the Pig demographic are worried more about personal finances because of today’s economy. Asked how those concerns are affecting them, almost half, or 48 percent, said they are socializing less with friends; 38 percent said they are losing sleep; 34 percent said they are distracted at work; and 31 percent said they are short-tempered with family and friends.

The majority want to get on stronger financial footing this year, with 94 percent of 25- to 34- year olds saying they are at least somewhat likely to make saving a priority, more than those who said the same about living healthier, 90 percent, or losing weight, 78 percent. Even so, almost four in 10, or 38 percent, said they have a hard time socking away even $25 a week.

“Young adults, debt-laden and savings-starved, are literally losing sleep as they struggle to put in place financial foundations to support their ambitions,” said Jordan Amin, CPA, chairman of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission, which oversees the profession’s financial literacy programs. “The future they’ve imagined is at risk, and that’s hurting all aspects of their lives. In Feed the Pig, young adults have a financial navigator — a robust set of tools and advice to guide them to savings success.”

Launched in 2006, Feed the Pig (www.feedthepig.org) is committed to helping 25- to 34-year olds focus on saving at one of the most important times in their lives – a time when they are making critical decisions about personal priorities, housing, family and debt. Developed pro bono by agencies Turbine and Radioface after extensive research to understand the concerns and goals of the target audience, the new ads feature iconic spokesman Benjamin Bankes delivering a key message: “Put away a few bucks. Feel like a million bucks.”

“Given the state of the economy over the past couple of years and its impact on young adults today, these tools are an important resource to help them navigate their financial lives.  We know that young adults have a hard time saving for their future and that they are living beyond their means,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “I am confident the new work in this successful campaign will help ensure they are including regular savings as an essential part of how they manage their money.”

Feed the Pig is a trademark of the AICPA. It has a strong online and social media presence, including a new mobile website, feedthepig.org, podcasts, weekly email savings tips and text messages, as well as Facebook and Twitter pages for Benjamin Bankes. The campaign serves as an extension of 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy, a free resource of the CPA profession to educate Americans on how financial issues affect them at all life stages, beginning with childhood and extending through retirement.



About the survey: The AICPA/Ad Council survey was conducted online by C& R Research Nov. 3-9 with a sample of 505 young adults, ages 25-34, from across the nation.
For more information, visit aicpa.org. For information about The Ad Council, visit www.adcouncil.org. For full survey results, contact Beth Shanley at bshanley@adcouncil.org or Jonathan Cox at jcox@aicpa.org.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

5 Tips to avoid getting sued in the new year

Legal Advice from the Attorneys at Valorem Law Group
Within a business, there are few things worse than getting slapped with the dreaded lawsuit.  Not only are lawsuits expensive, but they can be time-consuming, draining and frustrating so how do you avoid one?  Valorem Law Group, a business litigation firm in Chicago, has provided five tips to avoid getting sued:
1.        Legal Contract Review:  Even for the most routine and mundane contracts, have someone from your legal counsel review the contract before signing. The money spent upfront for legal review will save you ten times more than skimping on legal fees and facing litigation from the contract down the road.  If using a standard form, make sure it has been reviewed in advance by counsel, and have it routinely updated.
2.      Professional Office Communication:  Train employees to use email professionally. Anything said internally or externally within an email may find its way to the other side in litigation.  People tend to forget that this informal communication method often loses cases.
3.      Analyze the Business:  On a regular basis, analyze your business to determine if a certain area is receiving more lawsuits and if there is a trend as to why.  If you are a manufacturer, for example, perhaps your designs or warnings are not up to par. If you are getting sued on vendor contracts more regularly, perhaps the language or verbiage needs to be tweaked.
4.      Institute Policies and Procedures:  Have policies and procedures in place for employment-related matters and follow them.
5.      Documentation:  If you suspect something unethical or illegal is going on within your own company, investigate it immediately and document the results. Do not think that things will go away or go unnoticed. As inside counsel, remember your fiduciary duty is to the company.
For more information visit www.valoremlaw.com. Find them on Facebook at “Valorem Law Group.”

Sunday, January 1, 2012

GreenPath Debt Solutions says make 2012 the year to "leap" out of debt

New Year's Day is the traditional time for setting resolutions. Farmington Hills-based GreenPath Debt Solutions trainer Megan Bridgett offers up some simple and attainable ways to get financial goals in line in the first 60 days of the New Year. She recommends using the "extra" leap year day of February 29 as a financial jumping off point for the remainder of 2012.
January 1-31: On January 1, come up with a projected budget of your monthly expenses, breaking them into different categories: Groceries, clothing, entertainment, dining out, utilities, household bills, debts, etc." Then, for the month of January, hold on to every receipt," said Bridgett. GreenPath has a downloadable, interactive, budget worksheet and various calculators through GreenPath University to help you set an attainable budget and goals. Visit www.greenpath.com/university/welcome.htm for more information.
Each week, go through the receipts and place them into the different categories that you have identified. At the end of the month, tally up the totals, and compare what you have spent to what you had projected. "People tend to spend 10 to 20 percent over what they anticipated on projected spending," said Bridgett. This will help you to identify areas to adjust or cut back.
January 1-14: The first two weeks of January, when you are still excited about your New Year's resolution, coordinate a family meeting.
"It is important to keep all members of the family involved in the decision making process," said Bridgett. For instance, children can help save the family money by simply turning off lights when they leave the room. They can also monitor cell phone usage and charges.
January 14-28: The second two weeks of the month, brainstorm to create short- and long-term goals. Short-term goals could occur within the next three to six months, and long-term could be within the next few years.
Try to keep them SMART:
--  Specific - Be as specific as possible.  For instance, if your goal is to "save money," try to make it specific by saying "I want to save money in order to buy a new car."
--  Measurable - Another tip is to make the goal measurable.  One way to do this is to identify an amount that you would like to get to.  "I want to save $5,000 to buy a new car."
 --  Attainable - If goals are not attainable, you might become discouraged and give up.
 --  Realistic - Make sure you are being realistic.  For instance, if you had a goal of "Never eat lunch out while at work," this might not be realistic or possible.  But if I changed it to "Eat out at lunch no more than once per week," you are far more likely to stick with it.
-- Timely - Think of a time frame and a deadline for the goal to be accomplished. This will help you to stay focused and motivated.  "I want to save $5,000 by November to buy a new car."
February 1-28: Start making some cutbacks. "Think of areas that you feel you can cut back on, and identify how much you can cut back by," said Bridgett. "Be sure to stay realistic with this and do not cut out everything. Gradually make these changes to keep yourself motivated and excited."
Keep tracking your expenses. Use a notebook and compare at the end of the month. Any money that was saved possibly put in a family bank account. Each month, have another family meeting and celebrate your successes by doing something fun together as a family. This celebration does not have to be expensive. It could be renting a video and having "Movie Night."
February 29: Use the "extra" day in the 2012 Leap Year to review and adjust your budget and expenses, looking toward big 2012 financial milestones like vacations, back-to-school shopping, paying for college and more.
"If you are able to get through the first 60 days of attaining your goals and tracking your progress, you will find yourself saving, budgeting and tracking your way to financial success throughout the rest of the year," said Bridgett.
For more information, visit www.greenpath.com.

GreenPath Debt Solutions is a nationwide, non-profit financial organization that assists consumers with credit card debt, housing debt and bankruptcy concerns. Their customized services and attainable solutions have been helping people achieve their financial goals since 1961.