Agility and Innovation – The Niche Market’s Advantage

In the traditional concept of economies of scale, larger companies squeezed out their competitors by offering convenience and better values. We have seen the retail giant Wal-Mart mow down its smaller competitors with lower prices and one-stop shopping. It has been a long held belief that BIGGER WAS BETTER! But, in many industries, this belief is being challenged and smaller niche businesses are winning the battle of “David and Goliath.”In high-tech, steel, airlines, automotive, and even retail industries, smaller niche companies are carving out a place in the market where their size is their advantage. A small business has the flexibility and agility to respond to the market with lighting speed and provide products and services that are specialized and unique to their industry. By not trying to be “everything to everyone” they have honed their products and services to answer a very specific sector of the marketplace. The key for small businesses is to find their niche and be the very best at it. This challenge is daunting and requires persistence and creativity. Many small businesses go through adaptations and changes as they search for their unique place. Often even the subtlest variations upon an established concept can create a niche.It is the truly curious and relentless mind that finds these “vacancies” in the market. In retail, it may mean researching products that are in demand but large retailers cannot offer in complete variety. An example is the scrap- booking market. Large retailers sell some scrapbooking supplies but space and price limit what they can offer. In response to the growing demand for greater variety and add-ons like clubs and classes, an entire class of retailers was born. These small and specialized stores can respond to trends like popular film characters supplies to meet demand. This is a good example of a small niche company beating the competition simply by using size and specialization to its advantage.But what if all the good ideas are already taken? Well, that is never going to happen. There are always more good ideas because the market place has infinite variations. It’s finding the idea that’s the hard part. The major business publications should be on every entrepreneur’s daily agenda. These should be read with scrutiny and an open mind. Look at what’s working and where trends are leading. Look at every trade journal in whatever industry you are interested in and you will find a wealth of information and raw data that can guide you in your search for that great new idea. One very valuable section is the letters to the editor. Contributors often ask questions and make comments that highlight “holes” in the industry’s offerings.Remember, the key to a niche market success is innovation. What can you do differently and what can you do better than anyone else? Because you’re small you can offer customized services aimed at a specific segment of the market. Find a group of customers whose needs are focused and particular and look at the businesses who service them. Can you form a niche by offering a select service or product that will meet their special needs better than a large and multi-service/product company can? It you study your demographics carefully you can find that missing link in what a large company can do and what your small company can do better and cheaper. This is where persistence comes in. You have to do your research and consult with other business professionals to find the right formula.The agility and innovation in the small and medium size business market is winning the battle every day and you can be one of those winners by being thorough, creative, and persistent. Don’t be intimidated by large competitors. Remember that business is much like the car you drive. You want something that is fast, economic, attractive, easy to park, and gets you where you’re going every time. In business and cars, the smaller you are the more often you win the race.

Conversations With CEOs – Why Business Savvy Counts

“But I know my profession inside out,” says my next door neighbour. “I don’t understand why this particular contract eluded us.”

Most of us can checkmark the long list of reasons why clients do business with us. Besides establishing rapport and long-term relationships, providing excellent quality of service and technical accuracy, often there is one important criteria that hasn’t been given consideration. This is most true when dealing with senior executives. Decision makers gravitate to professional experts they trust to understand their business and the particular industry issues that can make or break their success.

They appreciate that you are an expert tax advisor for example, and wouldn’t see you if you weren’t. However, they are most interested in how you can help them navigate industy issues inside and outside of what you do as a professional. What do you actually know about business and particularly theirs? How conversant are you? Can they introduce you to their investors? Their Chairman of the Board?

Now you ask, “How can I keep up with all the nuances related to a multitude of industries when I can barely keep up with all the ongoing changes related to my own profession and staying at the top of my game?”

Here’s a few suggestions:

I. Identify the industries your top 20 clients and top 10 prospective clients come from?

II. Start with prioritizing a few industries to learn more about based on who you do profitable business with now.

III. Keep files of newspaper and magazine articles, industry journals and anything else you can find that’s pertinent for easy reference as required. Read them, think about them, make connections to your services.

IV. Ask clients about their industry issues. What level of knowledge would distinguish you from a competitive service provider and why is that important to them?

V. Finally, as you learn about the top issues currently affecting your clients, explore your expertise can help turn issues into opportunities rather than threats. Quantify how your services can minimize risks and make a difference in the achievement of the client’s objectives.

VI. File your stories, either your own or those that you hear about. For example, if you have a client who was able to retain one staff member that saved them $200,000. in recruitment and training costs, not to mention preventing loss of knowledge and clients, as a result of your consulting or coaching services, then be sure you find a way to save that story. Get a testimonial or at least be able to talk about the bottom line results that your client achieved as a result of working with you, Business Savvy Professional Extraordinaire!

VII. Have fun – part of lifelong learning is getting outside of our own boxes and jumping into other’s now and then to truly empathize and problem solve with clients.

Are You Making This Deadly Mistake in Your Internet Home Based Business?

In today’s economy most people are looking to start an Internet home based business to be able to have that money and time freedom that we all want, am I right? But if you look at the numbers, how many people actually get what they came for? 3 out of 100? Unfortunate as it may be, it is the honest truth and our industy numbers. As for the other 97 people, they either quit within their first 90 days or they end up spending more money then they make. I will explain how to make sure you are part of that 3% who see success in Internet home based businesses.

Never, and I repeat NEVER talk about/pitch your business opportunity. Nobody cares if you have the best compensation plan on the planet, or the best multivitamin in the industry. You see, all of that doesn’t matter. I know, it may be shocking at first but hear me out. OK… People buy into people. Your target market is going to be made up of primarily people who are already in an internet home based business. They don’t want to hear about an opportunity, they want to find a LEADER who can help them break away from that ugly 97% and finally be apart of the elite 3%. The only goal you should try to accomplish is helping other people get what they want through your content. By showing expertise they will begin to follow your work, opt in, and eventually join your business.

Ok, so I know you might be thinking well if I focus on only marketing myself and helping other people get what they want, how on earth will I be able to get results in my business? It’s common sense really. There is only one you, and nobody can compete with that. Always remember that you must give first, and then receive. Show people that you know what you are talking about, that you are the leader that they are desperately looking for. They will start to take notice, slowly but surely, and then come to you (the leader) to show them how they can reach their goals and see the same success that you have.

97% of people in Internet home based businesses have absolutely no idea how to become a true success in this industry. Make sure you pull yourself away from that crowd by marketing yourself and your ability to lead another to success, not your business opportunity!

EPA Regualtions Raise the Bar for Industial Air Quality Testing

Far-reaching environmental legislation continues to change the way Americans live, work, and run their businesses. For the past decade and a half, companies have worked toward meeting the latest air quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In 2005, regulations introduced by the Clean Air Act of 1990 came into full effect with the goal of reducing harmful emissions by 57-billion pounds per year. The act continues to have a huge impact both economically and environmentally as it targets the sources of urban air pollution, acid rain, and stratospheric ozone depletion.

Air pollution is not a new problem in the United States. During the 1940s, a series of pollution-related disasters forced Americans to acknowledge the need for clean air standards. The worst of those incidents took place during a five day period in 1948, when smog caused by industrial emissions and coal-burning furnaces killed 20 people and sickened nearly 7,000 others in the small town of Donora, Pennsylvania.

The tragedy spurred the federal government to take control of air quality management. In 1955, the Air Pollution Control Act was introduced to mandate the national investigation of air pollution. More stringent air quality controls were later established with the creation of the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the formation of the EPA. In 1990, the Clean Air Act was revised to include the following amendments:

• Title I – strengthens measures for attaining national air quality standards

• Title II – sets forth provisions relating to mobile sources

• Title III – expands the regulation of hazardous air pollutants

• Title IV – requires substantial reductions in emissions for control of acid rain

• Title V – establishes operating permits for all major sources of air pollution

• Title VI – establishes provisions for stratospheric ozone protection

• Title VII – expands enforcement powers and penalties

The legislation not only provides the EPA with innovative regulatory procedures, but allows for a variety of supportive research and enforcement measures. Individuals may face fines up to $250,000 and imprisonment up to 15 years, with each day of violation counted as a separate offense. Businesses may face fines of up to $500,000 for each negligent violation and up to $1 million per day for knowing endangerment. Many corporations must apply for national operating permits because of the emissions released by their processes.

Current industrial air quality testing is driven by the latest amendments. A major focus for manufacturers under the new provisions can be found in Title III, which identifies and lists 189 HAPs (Hazardous Air Pollutants) to be reduced within a ten-year period. This is a tremendous increase since the EPA had previously established standards for only seven HAPs out of only eight listed. These pollutants can result in serious health effects, such as cancer, birth defects, immediate death, or catastrophic accidents.

Among the air pollutants the act pinpoints for monitoring are VOCs (volatile organic compounds). These chemicals are identified as organic because of the presence of carbon, but many are synthetically created. VOCs include gasoline, industrial chemicals such as benzene, solvents such as toluene and xylene, and tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene, the principal dry cleaning solvent). Many VOCs, such as benzene, are present on the HAP list because of the threat they pose to human health. These pollutants may cause death, disease, or birth defects in organisms that ingest or absorb them.

There are a variety of methods for the determination of TO (toxic organic) compounds in ambient air at parts-per-million (ppm) and parts-per-billion (ppb) concentration levels. Following the EPA’s TO-14, TO-14A, or TO-15 Methods, VOCs in air are collected in specially prepared canisters and analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) instruments.

To test air quality using these methods, a sample of ambient air from a source must be drawn into a pre-evacuated specially prepared canister. After the sample is collected, the canister valve is closed, an identification tag is attached to the canister, a chain-of-custody (COC) form completed, and the canister is transported to a laboratory for analysis.

Upon receipt at the lab, the proper documentation is completed and the canister is attached to the analytical system. Water vapor is reduced in the gas stream by a dryer (if applicable), and the VOCs are then concentrated by collection in a cryogenically cooled trap. The refrigerant, typically liquid nitrogen or liquid argon, is then removed and the temperature of the trap is raised. The VOCs originally collected in the trap are revolatilized, separated on a GC column, and then run through one or more detectors to identify the components and concentrations in each sample. Findings are thoroughly documented in a written report which is presented to the client.

The qualitative and quantitative accuracy of these analyses is of the utmost importance. Difficulty arises in part because of the wide variety of TO substances and the lack of standardized sampling and analysis procedures.

To facilitate the improvement of laboratory air quality testing and analysis, one proactive company, Scott Specialty Gases, offers a cross-reference program for labs. Now laboratories can evaluate their own proficiency by comparing their results against Scott Specialty Gases’ as well as the blind results from other participating labs. By employing the highly accurate and stable gas mixtures manufactured by Scott Specialty Gases, laboratories can also calibrate their GC/MS instruments to achieve more precise readings of samples.

Chemical manufacturing plants, oil refineries, toxic waste sites or land fills, and solid waste incinerators are just a few of the many sources of hazardous air pollutants. The financial cost to install state-of-the-art controls is great.

Thanks to the services offered by companies like Scott Specialty Gases and to the more stringent requirements of the Clean Air Act of 1990, the environment is on the mend. The impact of industry compliance with the Clean Air Act of 1990 has been astounding. Careful testing has already shown a significant improvement in national air quality thanks to anti-pollution efforts. According to studies conducted by the Foundation for Clean Air Progress, exposure levels for ozone and particulates have decreased and four of the six most serious pollutants identified by the Clean Air Act of 1970 are no longer being released into the air at unhealthy levels. These improvements fly in the face of data that shows increased population growth and energy usage in the United States. Regulatory vigilance and technological advances in environmental monitoring have made cleaner air a reality.