He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice…..

From the wonderful Savage Notes.

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The Monday Morning Quote #146

“A man’s ethical behaviour should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary.

Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”

Albert Einstein

The Monday Morning Quote #145

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

The trap of social media noise – great writing from Seth Godin

Seth deals with the “noise” of social media, I wish I had managed to say this so concisely and well when I wrote this piece – I will now. Here’s a link to the full piece.

The trap of social media noise

If we put a number on it, people will try to make the number go up.

Now that everyone is a marketer, many people are looking for a louder megaphone, a chance to talk about their work, their career, their product… and social media looks like the ideal soapbox, a free opportunity to shout to the masses.

But first, we’re told to make that number go up. Increase the number of fans, friends and followers, so your shouts will be heard. The problem of course is that more noise is not better noise.

In Corey’s words, the conventional, broken wisdom is:

  • Follow a ton of people to get people to follow back
  • Focus on the # of followers, not the interests of followers or your relationship with them.
  • Pump links through the social platform (take your pick, or do them all!)
  • Offer nothing of value, and no context. This is a megaphone, not a telephone.
  • Think you’re winning, because you’re playing video games (highest follower count wins!)

This looks like winning (the numbers are going up!), but it’s actually a double-edged form of losing. First, you’re polluting a powerful space, turning signals into noise and bringing down the level of discourse for everyone. And second, you’re wasting your time when you could be building a tribe instead, could be earning permission, could be creating a channel where your voice is actually welcomed.

Leadership (even idea leadership) scares many people, because it requires you to own your words, to do work that matters. The alternative is to be a junk dealer.

The game theory pushes us into one of two directions: either be better at pump and dump than anyone else, get your numbers into the millions, outmass those that choose to use mass and always dance at the edge of spam (in which the number of those you offend or turn off forever keep increasing), or

Relentlessly focus. Prune your message and your list and build a reputation that’s worth owning and an audience that cares.

Only one of these strategies builds an asset of value.

The Promised Land – A modern Fairy Tale

The promised land
Maybe this should be sent to all the bankers in Europe. (Thanks to D.I.)

A modern fairy-tale.

Helga is the proprietor of a bar.

She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar.

To solve this problem, she comes up with a new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later.

Helga keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers’ loans).

Word gets around about Helga’s “drink now, pay later” marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Helga’s bar.

Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in town.

By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands, Helga gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages.

Consequently, Helga’s gross sales volume increases massively.

A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognizes that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Helga’s borrowing limit.

He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral!!!

At the bank’s corporate headquarters, expert traders figure a way to make huge commissions, and transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS.

These “securities” then are bundled and traded on international securities markets.

Naive investors don’t really understand that the securities being sold to them as “AA” “Secured Bonds” really are debts of unemployed alcoholics.

Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb!!!, and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation’s leading brokerage houses.

One day, even though the bond prices still are climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Helga’s bar. He so informs Helga.

Helga then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons, but being unemployed alcoholics they cannot pay back their drinking debts.

Since Helga cannot fulfil her loan obligations she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and Helga’s 11 employees lose their jobs.

Overnight, DRINKBOND prices drop by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the bank’s liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.

The suppliers of Helga’s bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms’ pension funds in the BOND securities.

They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds.

Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers. Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multibillion dollar no-strings attached cash infusion from the government.

The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who’ve never been in Helga’s bar.

Now do you understand?

Denplan for sale

From Daily Telegraph on-line, full piece here.

The usual lack of understanding about the way that Denplan works, as pointed out in one of the comments. Whoever buys it will be well advised to change very little – it’s a well managed business and an excellent brand. It’s more about insurance companies and their “strategic reviews” which frequently accomplish change for its own sake and very little else.

Axa has put its dental-insurance business, Denplan, up for sale for a mouth watering £100m, the Daily Telegraph can reveal.

The company, which covers more than 1.8m patients across the UK and 6,500 dentists, is the UK’s biggest dental insurance company.
It has enjoyed a boost over the last decade as more Brits turn to cosmetic dental treatments. Angelina Jolie, Cheryl Cole and the Duchess of Cambridge top lists for sought after smiles in the UK.
Founded in 1986, Denplan also offers loans of up to £25,000 for dental treatment. In the year to December 2010 the company had profits of £11.9m on sales of £25.4m.
The sale follows a strategic review across Axa UK. The division has already offloaded part of its UK life business to Resolution for £2.75bn last year and has put its Bluefin employee benefits arm up for sale.
Despite this, sources close to Axa say the company is not planning a wholsale exit from the UK. Instead it will focus on general insurance, wealth management and the remainder of its healthcare business.

Dental Practice Sale No-No’s!! – great advice from FTA

A great list from Andy Acton of Frank Taylor Associates, full post here.

It never fails to amaze me, but so many sellers still fail to take care of some of the most basic items before they try and bring their practice to market. I thought that I would take you through some of the biggest ‘no-no’s’ so that you won’t make the same mistakes.

  1. DON’T discuss the potential sale with the PCT. Of course when you do this the PCT will be as nice as pie and full of good intentions. However, this may come back to bite you further down the line – do not do it!
  2. DON’T sell to anyone who gives you a call! If you were selling your house, would you sell it to someone who phoned up and claimed they were the only people looking?! I suspect not. In which case, don’t do it with your business. Corporates will call and try and offer a knock down price – make sure you promote to the entire market.
  3. DON’T spend a small fortune on the internal decor. Interesting one this. I think with the plethora of property programmes on television offering good advice on house sales e.g. neutral colours, new paint, new carpet etc., many feel that the same is true of a practice. In our experience this isn’t the case. It must be presentable but it is less of an issue when buying a business rather than a residence.
  4. DON’T be concerned about a slightly below average level of profit. In our experience, buyers often believe they can do better than the current owner and like to feel that there is room for improvement when they place their ‘stamp’ on the practice.
  5. DON’T try and inflate the figures! Many purchasers will be wary about BIG changes in income and profit – especially big increases in income and profit the year before sale without good reason.
  6. DON’T leave equipment that doesn’t work or redundant on display. Pretty straightforward – if it isn’t of any use, pack it away or get rid of it.
  7. DON’T fail to plan in advance. A typical sale will currently take around 9-12 months. If you plan ahead and have 2-3 years you can make any relevant changes to the practice. Any less than this is unrealistic.
  8. DON’T ignore contracts. Perhaps when you took your associate on it was done with a friendly chat in the lounge bar of the Dog & Duck! When it comes to selling a business, this will no longer do. A full legal document needs to be in place – they are an ‘asset’ of the business.
  9. DON’T talk to the world and his wife. Whilst it is often useful to case opinion far and wide, the sale of a dental practice is generally not in this category. You tend to find that you will get 5 different opinions many of which will be misinformed.
  10. DON’T be unco-operative with potential buyers. As long as you have used an independent agent to ‘weed out’ timewasters anonymously, you should be as open as possible with serious potential buyers and communicate with them fully.
  11. DON’T try and keep back certain items e.g. practice website. This can come up quite a lot and the simple answer is that the sale of a business includes everything. It doesn’t matter that your friend designed the website and you really like it; it is an asset of the business and included in the sale.
  12. ALWAYS use specialists. Whether you’re talking about finance, solicitors or the agents who sell the practice, it is absolutely vital that you work with people who understand the potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.

Selling a business is a big undertaking and as the vendor you need to maximise your return on investment. Make sure that you don’t make any of these mistakes!

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