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Five Strategies That Can Take Your Business From Pretender To Contender

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Five Strategies That Can Take Your Business From Pretender To Contender

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

That quote, attributed to Benjamin Franklin, summarizes why some businesses and other endeavors fall short and end up in the scrap heap of lost dreams.

The importance of preparation for success in business is much like it is for professional sports teams trying to win a championship, says Paul Trapp (www.eventprep.com), founding owner/CEO of EventPrep, Inc., a full-service meeting planning and management company, and co-author with Stephen Davis of Prep for Success: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Achieving Your Dreams.

“Every single significant opportunity in life is a Super Bowl if you really want to be successful,” Trapp says. “The New England Patriots frequently reach the Super Bowl, but they don’t get there if they don’t practice with purpose every week, watch countless hours of video, and rise above the inevitable pain and struggles that come with high-level competition.

“Being prepared for every situation along the way leads to earning their biggest opportunity, and it’s the same way for a business looking for big opportunities to grow. The key to mastering the art of preparation is constant practice.”

Trapp and Davis offer five strategies for businesses to take their preparation to the next level:

Become a disruptor. “You want your business to stand out from the competition,” Trapp says. “To do that, ask yourself, ‘How can my company disrupt the industry? How do we position ourselves in the marketplace so that people will go out of their way to do business with us?’ ”

Attract the right talent. Picking the right person – one who can be a long-term employee vital to the company’s success – should be a slow and strategic process. For a business owner, hiring people is very much like investing,” says Davis, who is EventPrep’s founding owner/president/COO. “Before you offer someone a job, do research, check references, and ask many questions. Do people you are considering have the attitude and motivation to succeed? Would they be a good fit with your existing culture?”

Establish a winning culture. “A business culture is created at the top and cascades downward,” Davis says. “It takes great effort and dedication to build a winning business culture where everyone feels valued as contributors. It goes beyond the professional relationship to the personal – showing compassion for employees in times of need, and recognizing exceptional efforts with tangible rewards.”

Befriend Murphy. As in Murphy’s Law – ”Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Although all businesses encounter problems in a variety of ways, Trapp says, a strong organization can properly prepare in a way to withstand them and solve them quickly. “Because Murphy is going to show up in any number of forms,” Trapp says, “when preparing to do anything, there has to be a list of solutions in place before a problem ever happens.”

Recognize and seize opportunities. “The key to seizing an opportunity is identifying a need greater than your own – that of your customer,” Davis says. “Imagine you meet someone who can help you solve a need because he or she has the tools and experience to give you what you really need. Think about what real estate agents do for home buyers. They ask specific questions about what the clients are looking for, relate to their excitement about finding the right kind of home, and create a vision of that.”

“Preparedness is the key in any and all situations,” Trapp says. “The only way you learn and grow as an individual, and as a business, is to perfect your unique abilities and a team’s winning strategies through repetition.”

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Paul Trapp is a founding owner/CEO of EventPrep, Inc. (www.eventprep.com), a full-service meeting planning and management company that supports 16 franchises across the U.S. He is co-author of the book Prep for Success: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. Trapp is a former senior military leader who served as chief of recruiting for the Army National Guard and holds over 30 years of experience in contract management, event planning, and organizing conferences, seminars, and meetings.

Stephen Davis is a founding owner/president/COO of EventPrep, Inc., and co-author of  Prep for Success: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Achieving Your Dreams. Davis is a multi-state operations director who focuses on conference development, implementation, management, and conference design. He currently serves as a chief warrant officer and CID special agent in the Army Reserves. Davis deployed twice in support of the global war on terrorism. In 2016, Davis and Paul Trapp launched  Federal Conference, Inc., which provided professional event planning and management services to the government and commercial marketplaces. Federal Conference, Inc., twice was an Inc. 500 award recipient and executes over 3,000 events annually around the world.

Millennials

Millennials To Become Richest Generation — Here’s What We All Need To Know

Data shows that many millennials don’t have it easy compared to their parents’ baby boomer generation. Onerous college debt, tight wages, expensive real estate, and high insurance costs are big challenges they face and ones that weren’t as formidable to boomers when they were in their 20s and 30s.

But thanks to the wealth that baby boomers will pass on to their children, life will get easier for a sizeable percentage of millennials. They are expected to inherit $68 trillion from their baby boomer parents by 2030. That total is spread among 45 million U.S. households, according to a report from research firm Cerulli Associates.

Amid the biggest generational wealth transfer in U.S. history, however, financial planner Jeannette Bajalia says there are many important factors that both generations and financial advisors must consider to make the transfer go smoothly and avoid issues that could harm the financial legacy.

“Inheriting money is wonderful, but managing an inheritance can be difficult and risky,” says Bajalia (https://www.womans-worth.com), founder of Woman’s Worth®, an insurance and financial professional for four decades and the author of three books.

“Boomers, especially women, are worried about events that could take a big bite out of their children’s inheritance, such as long-term care and market corrections. And many financial advisors have to get up to speed on how to best serve millennials — a very different generation that looks at money management a much different way — while at the same time helping steer both generations in the right direction.”

Bajalia offers these tips to help boomers, millennials and financial advisors navigate the biggest generational wealth transfer ever:

Boomers: Start the inheritance conversation with your children. Studies have shown that heirs often blow through an inheritance quickly. This squandering can stem in part from being uninformed by their parents about the details of the estate. “It’s imperative to have that conversation with your children,” Bajalia says. “It can help your children make informed decisions, and bringing an advisor into the conversation adds structure and family trust. Parents should discuss priorities they had and impress upon the heirs how to handle the inheritance responsibly. If there is an indication of money management issues with the heirs, an estate planning attorney will need to add provisions to the legal documents in order to manage the distribution.”

Millennials: First, don’t rely on inheritance as an instant problem-solver. The inheritance shouldn’t be used as a new source of daily income, but mostly for the big picture. “With many millennials behind on retirement savings, a healthy inheritance is a way to kick-start it,” Bajalia says. “This is a great chance to pay down some college debt. Cash and other assets can help your future in numerous ways, but generally it’s wise to consult an advisor to learn about taxes and about how to construct a long-term plan including investments, particularly if the inheritance had IRAs as part of the pot. You can get back in the driver’s seat with an inheritance only if you don’t get in a hurry and take ill-advised risks.”

Advisors: Adapt to the first digital generation. Millennials were the first digital-savvy generation, making them a much different type of client to advisors compared to their boomer parents. They often educate themselves online about products. “Advisors need to learn how to connect with their clients’ children,” Bajalia says. “The younger generation expects a much different service experience than their parents did. They want better communication, convenience, integration of their financials through online portals, and readily accessible products — overall a customized experience.”

“Inheritance can be a life-changing event,” Bajalia says. “But so much depends on how the younger generation protects it and invests it. Boomers want to leave their children the best legacy possible, and advisors have a great opportunity to be that steady bridge between generations.”

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Jeannette Bajalia (womans-worth.com) is the founder and president of Woman’s Worth®, where she specializes in the unique needs of women as they plan for retirement. She is also president of Petros Financial Group and is an Investment Advisor Representative with Petros Advisory Services, LLC, a registered investment advisory firm. She has authored three books — Planning a PURPOSEFUL Life, Wi$e Up Women! A Guide to Total Fiscal and Physical Well-Being, and Retirement Done Right! An Ed Slott Master Elite Advisor and recognized as one of 20 Women of Influence by The Jacksonville Business Journal, Bajalia has over 40 years of leadership experience as a business owner and insurance and retirement income planning professional.

She has appeared on CNBC and Growing Bolder as well as in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, Bloomberg Businessweek, USA Today, Retirement Daily, and the Jacksonville and Orlando Business Journals. She completed her graduate and undergraduate studies at the University of North Florida, and was selected as one of the 2019 Women of Distinction by the St. Johns County Girl Scout Council.

U.S.-CHINA FDI GOES COLD WHILE VENTURE CAPITAL HEATS UP

Two-way FDI is plummeting

With trade talks between the United States and China running hot and cold, it’s irresistible to get sucked into daily U.S.-China trade war updates with its unexpected tariff announcements. In the bigger picture, the underlying uncertainty caused by ongoing trade tensions between the United States and China is having a large impact, particularly on two-way foreign direct investment (FDI).

So far this year, combined two-way U.S. and Chinese FDI has totaled just $9.9 billion— its lowest six-month value in five years, according to research firm Rhodium Group. At its peak in 2016, combined FDI totaled over $60 billion a year.

The slow start in 2019 is a continuation of a rough year for FDI in 2018, when flows between the United States and China dropped 60 percent year-over-year. Rhodium Group cites a deteriorating political relationship and regulatory intervention as two big reasons for the sharp decrease in investment.

U.S.-China FDI troubles are part of a bigger trend happening across the world, as global foreign investment flows fell to their lowest levels since the financial crisis in 2018, according to UNCTAD. Global FDI flows totaled $1.2 trillion in 2018 – down 20 percent from 2017.

U.S.-China FDI flows over last 30 years

Invested in each other

With trade tensions rising to a fever pitch, it may be hard to remember that American and Chinese companies have invested a lot in each other’s success over the last 30 years – over $420 billion, to be exact. U.S. FDI in Chinese industries adds up to over $275 billion since 1990. While Chinese investment in the United States is almost half of that at $148 billion, according to Rhodium Group’s U.S.-China investment tracker.

U.S. China FDI totals 420 billion

Beyond the sheer volume of money invested, foreign companies bring much more intangible value to the table. In his book, “Developing China: The Remarkable Impact of Foreign Direct Investment,” Michael Enright used an economic impact analysis to better understand the full impact of FDI in China. Enright estimates that foreign companies have contributed as much as one-third of China’s GDP and 27 percent of China’s employment through the accumulated impact of their investments, operations and supply chains in China. American companies alone contributed 4.2 percent of China’s GDP and nearly three percent of Chinese employment in 2014, according to Enright’s analysis.

Enright also pointed out that foreign companies have helped China develop by creating suppliers and distributors, introducing modern technologies, improving business practices, modernizing management training, improving sustainability performance, and helping to shape China’s legal and regulatory systems.

Chinese companies operating in the United States also bring benefits. As the second-fastest growing source of FDI in the United States in 2016, Chinese-owned firms supported nearly 80,000 U.S. jobs, invested nearly $600 million in innovative R&D, and expanded U.S. exports by $4.7 billion in 2016, according to Select USA.

Growing regulatory hurdles

The ongoing U.S.-China trade war is not entirely to blame for the recent dive in FDI. Both nations have stepped up regulatory oversight of foreign investment in recent years. Following the 2016 peak of global outbound investment by Chinese firms, the Chinese government tightened its grip on outbound capital flows, drastically slowing outbound investment by Chinese firms.

In the United States, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has stepped up investment screening of Chinese FDI, especially in sectors related to national security like infrastructure and information and communications technologies. Rhodium Group estimates $2.5 billion was left on the table in 2018, as Chinese investors abandoned deals in the United States due to unresolved CFIUS concerns.

The U.S. investment landscape may get more complicated for Chinese companies to navigate in the near future, as investors await the implementation of the new Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) and Export Control Reform Act (ECRA), both expected to increase U.S. regulatory oversight of foreign investments.

Foreign direct investment by American companies in China has also decreased, but not as drastically as for its Chinese counterparts. Yet, concerns about technology leakage have led to a cooling in U.S. FDI in China’s technology sectors.

FDI cooling, venture capital heating up

At the same time FDI is slowing, venture capital investment is becoming an increasingly bigger piece of the U.S.-China investment puzzle.

Chinese VC investment in the United States has increased dramatically since 2014, with Chinese-owned VC funds contributing an estimated $3.6 billion to U.S. companies over the course of 270 different funding rounds in 2018. This is just a fraction of what U.S.-owned VC firms have spent in China, but an important trend. U.S. VC firms invested a record $19 billion in Chinese start-up companies last year, according to Rhodium Group.

US venture capital firms invested $19 billion in Chinese startups

Firms on both sides of the world have utilized VC investment to invest in companies in sectors where FDI has faced growing regulatory scrutiny. Chinese VC firms have invested in semiconductors, for example, while U.S. VC Firms have invested in sectors limited to foreign firms in China like digital payments and internet start-ups.

Confidence is key

In order for foreign investments to work, companies are dependent on the success and stability of the nations where they choose to invest. Both American and Chinese companies have invested a lot in each other, through decades of foreign direct investment and now growing venture capital investment.

As the U.S.-China trade war rages without an end in sight, it’s worth remembering that ongoing tensions cost more than just tariffs on the products in your shopping cart. They are also a roadblock to long-term investments that bring additional capital, exports and jobs to each other’s economies.

Lauren Kyger

 

Lauren Kyger is Associate Editor for TradeVistas. Prior to joining TradeVistas, she was a Research Associate at the Hinrich Foundation focused on international trade issues. She is a Hinrich Foundation Global Trade Leader Scholar alumna, earning her Master’s degree in Global Business Journalism from Tsinghua University in Beijing. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

portfolio

Is It Time To Play Defense with Your Investment Portfolio?

The bull market has been charging ahead for more than a decade now, but financial professionals are starting to wonder whether the good times are about to come crashing down on the American public’s prosperous portfolios.

That means it could be time to become a bit more defensive with your investments, says Dr. Joseph Belmonte, an investment strategist and author of Buffett and Beyond: Uncovering the Secret Ratio for Superior Stock Selection(www.buffettandbeyond.com).

“People will talk about having good luck or bad luck in the market, and you never want to depend on blind luck,” says Dr. Belmonte says. “But another definition of luck is when opportunity meets preparation. And if a recession is coming, as so many people fear, then you want to make preparations.”

One suggestion for doing that, he says: Stay away from cyclical stocks, which are stocks that perform well when the economy is humming along, but struggle when things turn sour. These are companies that provide something that’s not essential to daily living or that consumers can at least postpone purchasing when times are tough.

Examples are car manufacturers, higher-end retail stores, and mortgage companies. Specific examples are Ford, General Motors, Caterpillar and Macy’s.

With the potential for a recession looming, Dr. Belmonte says, it’s vital that you review your portfolio, examine whether you have cyclical or non-cyclical stocks, and decide whether you need to make adjustments.

He says a few things worth remembering as you shift your portfolio to the defensive mode include:

-Look for efficiency. The companies you seek for your portfolio should be efficient. “They must have a relatively high return on equity and a consistent return on equity,” Dr. Belmonte says. “If the ROE is high and consistent, we know the firm has the capacity to create value because it is already doing so.”

-Examine a company’s history. Dr. Belmonte says that Warren Buffett likes to look at a company’s average return on equity over a 10-year period, most likely because over any 10-year period the economy goes through recessions and also economic expansions. “As the economy goes through these cycles, expectations about a company’s future will rise and fall with the mood of all of us,” Dr. Belmonte says. “Buffett probably feels that over a 10-year period, we see the average of at least one complete economic cycle, and of course, the ensuing mood swings that accompany both the good and bad times.”

-Consider value. Price follows value, Dr. Belmonte says, so invest in stocks that increase their value “every minute of every day.” He says McDonald’s is one example. The stock’s price may drop in tough times, but eventually the price catches back up to the company’s overall value. To find such companies, he says, look at how a stock performed during the last recession from June 30, 2008, to March 30, 2009. Value-added stocks didn’t fall as far as the overall market, and recovered much more quickly.

-Focus on businesses you understand. A company might sound good in theory, but if you don’t really have a good grasp of what it does and how the market for it might develop over the long haul, then it could be a risk for you. Dr. Belmonte suggests looking at businesses you have a good understanding of, so you can make an educated guess of where they likely are headed. “If you take a business you understand, and that company has a high and relatively consistent ROE, you are probably looking at a pretty good contender for your stock portfolio,” he says.”

“I always tell people to remember the good, the bad and the ugly,” Dr. Belmonte says. “The good stocks should be in our portfolios; the bad stocks should be in someone else’s portfolios; and the ugly stocks should be in nobody’s portfolio.”

 

 

Dr. Joseph Belmonte, author of Buffett and Beyond: Uncovering the Secret Ratio for Superior Stock Selection (www.buffettandbeyond.com), is an investment strategist and stock market consultant. He is fond of saying, “If you want to live on the beach like Jimmy Buffett, you’ve got to learn how to invest like Warren Buffett.” Dr. Belmonte has developed hedged growth income strategies for family offices, and has lectured to numerous professional and investment groups throughout the country. His weekly video newsletter is sent to thousands of investors, money managers, and academics both nationally and internationally.

How Clean Shipping Fuels Support Trillion-Dollar Investments

Implementing the use of clean fuels such as green ammonia creates the potential of trillion-dollar investment opportunities, specifically in developing countries, according to a report released by Ricardo Energy and Environment, commissioned by EDF. Identified by Sailing on Solar, the “green” alternative serves as an emissions-free substitute when used by shippers that produce it at-scale with untapped renewable energy resources. This approach ultimately eliminates fossil-fuel usage while offering a clean solution to modified shipping engines and hydrogen fuel cells.

Emissions-free shipping can be the engine that drives green development across the world,” Aoife O’Leary, senior legal manager at Environmental Defense Fund Europe, said. “The abundance and falling costs of untapped renewable resources like solar and wind energy in developing countries make the production of maritime fuels that emit no greenhouse gases a big potential investment opportunity where such production is undertaken by additional renewable capacity. And shippers can look forward to future running on the air, water, wind and sunlight that go into manufacturing new fuels like green ammonia.”

Additional findings from the research addressed the need for an established supply chain of green ammonia for the maritime sector, specifically calling out countries with renewable energy resources as a primary resource. While the IMO considers new policies to support the goal of cutting emissions in half, trillions of dollars in new investments are on the horizon if renewable energy alternatives are strategically implemented to alleviate financial strain for the production of sustainable alternative fuels.

“Countries must get serious about exploring international policies that can provide the incentive for alternative fuels like green ammonia and other sustainable shipping fuels to be adopted,” said O’Leary. “First movers will be able to benefit from investment in their economies towards additional renewable capacity whilst also gaining a competitive advantage as the shipping industry transitions to clean fuel. All that is needed to ensure this vision becomes reality is a sensible policy, including robust environmental safeguards, to allow the investment to flow.”