Business, Title Insurance New York

Business Links of Interest for Monday, December 16, 2013!

2014

With this the final full week before Christmas and New Years it’s a good time to look ahead to 2014 and new strategies that we might be thinking about implementing or stories that may have an impact in one way or another on our business!

These links are to articles that may be of interest.

Starting the Year Right: Business Development Goals for Every Lawyer – While attorney’s are the target audience of this article, the advice can actually be applied to just about any business!

Listing appointment a prime opportunity to dispel pricing myths, learn true motivation for selling – Once again, while this article focuses on establishing rational pricing expectations for the sellers of real estate, in any business that’s not commodity in nature this process is critical, particularly for new prospects!

55+ Housing Market Confidence Is Breaking Records – As Baby Boomers continue the aging process (the alternative is not a particularly good one) it’s a positive sign for those of us approaching the milestone of age 55 that our options for housing will likely be expanding. At the same time for any number of businesses this growing market segment will provide an outstanding opportunity!

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Family Businesses, Title Insurance New York

Guest Post: Factors Influencing Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Family Business

Hallmark Abstract Service wants to remind its readers that they do have the right to choose their title insurance provider for their commercial or residential real estate transaction.

While the cost of the actual title policy will not vary from firm to firm, the other fees most certainly will. Hallmark Abstract Service takes pride in charging clients our cost for those fees!

family

Factors Influencing Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Family Business by Rick Raymond of The Family Business Leader

Entrepreneurship and its integral component, innovation, are of vital importance for family enterprises in adapting to today’s dynamic market environment. Increasing competitiveness, globalization and growing marketplace demands make developing an entrepreneurial culture an essential ingredient for success in the economy. No family firm can afford an attitude of passivity if it seeks to survive through multiple generations.

Although family firms are widely recognized as a major source of innovation, over time some become conservative and are unable to see the benefits or are unwilling to take the risks associated with entrepreneurial activities. Others develop the capacity to regenerate, allowing them to renew their operations, grow new markets, develop new skills, and adopt new strategies. A wide range of factors including family dynamics influence a company’s attitude to entrepreneurship, innovation and their inherent challenges.

Founder’s Length of Tenure

While the importance of the founder in shaping a firm’s culture is indisputable, studies show significant negative correlation between the length of the founder’s tenure of control and the company’s involvement in entrepreneurship, innovation and the pursuit of new ventures. This is especially true with the founder as CEO. The dual function serves to concentrate power in the founder’s hands and leads to intensification of conservatism, resistance to change, stifling of entrepreneurial activities and aversion to risk.

Notably, systems and processes development is one area where a long-tenured CEO’s resistance to change can seriously impact innovation. In the first generation these systems were designed to meet the founder’s needs, but they may not be properly integrated with current business operations. This causes inertia to take hold in the organization. As the business and marketplace mature and the next generation proposes changes, a crisis situation can arise. Frustrated by the constraints of working with outdated and inefficient systems, competent managers–whether non-family employees or new generation family members–seek employment opportunities elsewhere where they can use their talents. With them goes their day-to-day input, variety of skills, background, knowledge and connections. The loss of these resources results in strategic simplicity that reduces the possibility of agile responsiveness to changes in the environment.

Risk taking

Because the functioning of family businesses is set for a longer time horizon, greater importance is all too often attached to maintaining the founder’s imprint and lesser importance is attached to innovation. In a highly conservative family enterprise, transition from founders to other leaders entails serious risks, the most significant of which is continuing a culture that overlooks the need for entrepreneurial activities. Early succession planning can help minimize this risk by grooming successors and nurturing their ability to innovate while sharpening their skills in creating an organizational culture that encourages risk taking.

The skills inherent in entrepreneurship and innovation are essential in successor leadership because the complexity of entrepreneurial risk taking presents a key challenge to family enterprises. Management of a constellation of variables; innovation, new ventures, and outside alliances can sharpen a family firm’s skills and enhance its ability to adapt to and profit from changes in the economic environment. However the effect of a family firm’s culture on its systems and decision-making processes can be profound.

Family ownership and involvement promote entrepreneurship

In a family business multiple members of the same family are involved as owners and managers either contemporaneously or over time. The long-term nature of family firms’ ownership allows them to dedicate the resources required for innovation thereby fostering entrepreneurship.

Research has shown that the more generations of the same owner family are active in the company, the higher the firm’s focus on innovation. Since innovation usually requires diverse knowledge bases, it has been suggested that the involvement of different and multiple generations promotes innovation by bringing fresh insights and experiences and therefore new knowledge into the family firm. Capitalizing on the talents, skills, and connections of different family members can spur innovation and facilitate venturing into new market arenas. Also members of the owner family share an incentive toward encouraging a focus on innovation because the success of their company increases their wealth.

Corporate structure and building a culture of innovation

Research findings argue that firms with a more flexible structure have higher rates of innovation. Flexibility in processes and procedures, open channels of communication, decentralization, and informal decision making, along with loosely coupled decision linkages and loosely defined job descriptions are associated with innovative activity. Family firms have the advantage in this respect in that they typically have flexible structures and decision-making processes.

Clearly defined vision and mission

The importance of a defined vision to develop its business and a business-oriented philosophy of change is key to building a culture of innovation. Other factors include consistency in decision-making on innovative projects and identification of needs in terms of opportunities to develop entirely new businesses. In this regard emphasis should be placed on training and consultancy in the areas of activity, vision, mission, competitive advantage, methods and tools for strategy implementation and control.

Strategic Planning

The foundation of innovation: a strategic plan improves the condition of the company and secures its sustainability. Research into family business shows a positive correlation between a company’s level of innovation and its commitment to solid strategic planning that includes risk-taking and innovative activities as essential elements.

Commitment and clear involvement of top executives is essential

Successful innovation is a top-level management process. The generation and implementation of new ideas requires focus and clear guidelines. To produce innovations that result in performance advantages to the company, these processes must be properly managed within the organization. Management must plan and oversee the strategic development and deployment of resources within the organization including the setting up of multidisciplinary project teams and internal communications thus maximizing idea generation and adding critical strategic complexity.

In order to gain and sustain a competitive position in the marketplace family enterprises must be positioned to actively develop and take advantage of entrepreneurial opportunities inherent in their business model. Strong family bonds, a diverse set of skills, experience, knowledge, management experience, long-term internal and external connections available within the family group are resources unique to family businesses. Committed involvement of family members where the success of the organization serves both self and family interests are factors that strongly support a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Rick Raymond is principal of The Family Business Leader™ and co-founder of The Growth Team.  They help second-, third-, and fourth- generation family businesses with succession planning, family dynamics, and family business management best practices as well as closely-held businesses in transition and growth. Rick is also adjunct faculty,  Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of New York, and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, New York University.

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Business management, Business Management and Productivity, Title Insurance New York

Productivity tips from throughout history!

business

Businesspeople, whether sole practitioners or manager of hundreds, face the daily hurdle of maintaining the productivity level of themselves and of others!

There’s no question that on some days it can certainly be a challenge to maintain the desired intensity level but,  as we have witnessed throughout history, others have faced this problem and have persevered.

Here is a list of 25 of these people and the methodology that they used to maintain their productivity level.

1. Like many of us, Beethoven started his day by making coffee. He insisted on using 60 beans per cup.

2. Benjamin Franklin was “early to bed, early to rise,” and in his later years, early to take it all off. Franklin’s morning “air baths” consisted of reading and writing completely starkers for about an hour. Then he put his clothes on and got back to work.

3. Many famous writers and artists made sure to eat breakfast. Victor Hugo preferred his eggs raw.

4. Before Freud went into the office, he got a daily house call/beard trimming from his barber.

5. Agatha Christie never owned a desk. She wrote her 80 novels, 19 plays, and numerous other works wherever she could sit down.

6. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up.

7. Thomas Wolfe also wrote standing up, using the top of a refrigerator as his desktop. (He was 6’6″.)

8. Some people actually get work done at Starbucks. Rainbow Rowell, author of the critically acclaimed YA novel Eleanor and Park, has written all of her books at the coffee chain.

9. Richard Wright did all of his writing, rain or shine, on a bench in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park.

10. Maya Angelou is incapable of writing in pretty surroundings. She prefers working in nondescript hotel and motel rooms.

11. It wasn’t that Frank Lloyd Wright necessarily worked well under pressure. He just wouldn’t sketch anything until he’d worked out an entire design in his head.

12. Truman Capote told The Paris Review, “I can’t think unless I’m lying down.” Neither could Proust.

13. When composer Igor Stravinsky felt blocked, he’d stand on his head to clear his mind.

14. Woody Allen gets in the shower — sometimes multiple times per day — when he needs a mental boost. (Here’s why his habit just might work.)

15. Classical pianist Glenn Gould fasted on days he recorded music. He thought it made his mind sharper.

16. German poet Friedrich Schiller insisted that the smell of apples rotting in his desk drawer stimulated his creativity.

17. Sometimes focusing is the issue. While writing The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen worked at his computer wearing earplugs, earmuffs and a blindfold.

18. Stephen King writes every day of the year and aims for a goal of 2,000 words each day. (It usually takes about five hours.)

19. Starting in 1950, Vladimir Nabokov wrote first drafts on index cards. This way, he could rearrange paragraphs and chapters with a quick shuffle. Once the author knew what order he wanted, his wife, Vera, typed them into one manuscript.

20. When Anthony Trollope finished writing one book, he immediately started another. Henry James did the same thing.

21. Theologian Jonathan Edwards, most famous for the sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” didn’t have the luxury of Post-it notes or a portable pen. When he had ideas while horseback riding, he’d associate a single thought with a section of his clothing and then pin a piece of paper to that area. When Edwards returned to his desk, he’d unpin the papers and write down the thoughts.

22. After dinner, Mark Twain read the day’s writing aloud to his family to get their feedback.

23. While writing Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice appropriately slept all day and worked all night. She likes to follow this schedule to avoid distractions.

24. Writer Jerzy Kosinski got eight hours of sleep each day, but he didn’t get it all at once. He woke at 8 a.m. and then slept four hours in the afternoon. Then he woke again, continued working until the wee hours, and slept four more hours before starting the next day.

25. Night owl Willem de Kooning often wore a hat and coat while he painted — his studio turned off the building’s heat after 5 p.m.

List courtesy of The Week

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Pricing Strategy, Title Insurance New York

Guest Post: Pricing: The Never-Ending Sales Question

In business the question of pricing is always central to day to day operations in one form or another!

In the case of title insurance where premiums do not vary from one company to another there are other fees involved in the transaction that do. The business decision on how to price those fees is one way that Hallmark Abstract can differentiate ourselves from other firms.

In other industries where price can vary and perhaps bids have to be placed in order to win business this question of pricing will run central to the day-to-day decision making.

The following article was written by Adrian Miller who ‘is a Business Growth Architect, sales consultant, trainer, author, avid traveler blogger, columnist, hockey mom, amateur photographer, theater lover, movie goer and networker extraordinaire.

She launched her sales consulting business 26 years ago and since then has worked in pretty much every industry and with companies large and small.’

Pricing: The Never-Ending Sales Question

Effective pricing is a slippery slope. You fear that you are pricing too high and then the opposite, too low. Just like Little Red Riding Hood, we want it to be “just right” but it can often come out wrong.

  • Will I lose the business because of my fees?
  • What if they go with the competition because they charge less?
  • I’ve lowered my price so much I wonder if I’m going to be able to make any money at all?

These questions and others just like it cause us to wrack our brains each and every time that we write a proposal or submit a quote and have to include a price!

It shouldn’t be that difficult! Now, I’m not some pricing guru (and I am certain that there are some out there) but there are a few things that I’ve done over these 27 years that have stood me in good measure. Perhaps you will find them helpful too:

  1. I know my competition’s “rack rate” and although I don’t know how and if they discount their prices, knowing their base price is often enough to help me establish a project budget.
  2. I truly understand the scope of effort that my project will require. There is nothing worse than charging a discounted price and then discovering just how much time and work the project will entail. (Ya gotta ask QUESTIONS before giving a price!)
  3. I understand and believe in my value. (That’s a BIG one.)
  4. I’m not afraid to walk away from a project if the prospect is simply not willing to pay for it.
  5. I am open to negotiation on price but that doesn’t mean simply caving in on their demands. They give a little, I give a little and we all come to a happy agreement on what is fair.

It’s not easy, it requires stamina but you can get it right. The simple fact is that if you don’t, you run the risk of having an unprofitable company and working yourself to death for very little.

 

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Business

The Non-Taper September Surprise and other articles of interest!

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke Non-Taper September Surprise!

The consensus in the financial markets leading up to the Fed announcement yesterday was that, at the very least, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would announce a drop in monthly bond purchases of a minimum of $10 billion from the current level of $85 billion.

That didn’t happen as Bernanke left the number unchanged due to the Fed’s analysis of the current state of the US economy and the forecast going forward of stubbornly high unemployment and a relatively weak level of GDP growth.

The article from Seeking Alpha below gives more of an overview of the rationale behind the Fed’s decision and, in addition, there are links provided to other articles for law firms, non-law businesses and real estate companies that we hope you will find interesting, relevant and useful.

The Federal Reserve Surprises With ‘No Taper’ Announcement

‘The Federal Open Market Committee met on Tuesday and Wednesday and decided not to taper Quantitative Easing (QE) not even by a small amount, so the $85 billion monthly bond-buying program remains in place until further notice…’

The Market Pulse from Corelogic

How I Analyze a Real Estate Deal, Step by Step

‘There’s no shortage of investment opportunities. You’ve heard it before but “the deal of a lifetime comes along once a week-” assuming you’re looking! So we prioritize our time, and when a property is presented to us, we first determine how fast we need to act. If it’s been on LoopNet for 4 months, we’ll stick it on the back burner no matter how appealing the numbers…’

Why Your Employees Need to Make More Mistakes

‘Large companies have many advantages over smaller newcomers: lots of resources, plenty of capital and longstanding customer relationships. Also, big companies, with their more experienced personnel and more complex procedures, tend to make fewer mistakes. But that isn’t actually an advantage. In fact, for a new company, a willingness to make mistakes is a strength that management should seek to leverage…’

The Art of Closing a Deal, Today

‘Dealmaking is tough enough in the best of times. But in a period of high competition and a recovering lending environment, brokers—particularly mortgage brokers—have their hands full, trying to orchestrate the best deals for their clients. Just ask Simon Ziff, president of Ackman-Ziff Real Estate Group, a locally based boutique real estate capital advisory firm specializing in a variety of financing solutions…’

For any information or to find the answer to questions concerning title insurance for either residential or commercial real estate transactions you can contact Hallmark Abstract Service by:

Email: orders@hallmarkabstractllc.com,

Phone: 516.741.4723

Or by visiting our website at www.HallmarkAbstractllc.com.

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November 25, 2013 Long Island Fight for Charity Tickets

Come and watch Hallmark Abstract Service President Mike Haltman step into the ring for charity by purchasing your FFC tickets here!

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Business, Title Insurance New York

Five keys to optimism in business!

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Five ways optimists think and act differently!

For anyone either in business for themselves or who works for someone else there are obviously many challenges that arise on a daily basis.

One of the keys, therefore, is to stay focused and maintain as optimistic and positive frame of mind as possible. Of course, as most of us are painfully aware, unfortunately at times that can be easier said than done!

As a guide, from the website Lifehack these are the ‘5 Things Optimists Do Differently’.

1. Optimists know that you don’t necessarily need to achieve something in order to be truly happy.

Happiness comes from within. It’s a conscious decision that you need to make, whether or not things are going the way you want them to.

If you provide a condition to your happiness, like you’ll only be happy if you’re able to achieve something, then what happens if that condition isn’t met?

Success isn’t a guaranteed factor. If you equate happiness with success, you may be happy, but this happiness stops the minute you start failing.

Give yourself the power to be committed to being happy by adapting a grateful outlook in life.

2. They avoid negative people and refrain from encountering bad vibes.

Optimists are well aware that being negative and being positive are both contagious. So, for them to create an optimistic environment, they stay away from grouchy people who always complain.

Instead, they nourish relationships with emotionally supportive and equally optimistic people. They know that life is too short to spend with people who don’t really value them, so they choose to spend it with people who do realize their worth.

3. Optimists respect themselves and their time.

In a way, optimistic people are like wild and brave souls–they are confident that they don’t need the approval of anyone else in order to live their lives. Positive people know that people will always judge them with whatever they do, so why bother pleasing people when it’s obvious that you can never please everyone every single time?

Optimists even have the courage and the confidence to say no to things that don’t really matter to them. They’re not pressured into doing something that they don’t really like, and they’re free to pursue their passion accordingly.

4. Optimists are resourceful people.

Successful entrepreneurs and optimists are both innovative and creative individuals. They know that they’re never going to have everything that they need, so they make do with what they have instead.

– Steve Jobs didn’t wallow in fear when he didn’t have enough money to fund his startup: he sold his only means of transportation, his VW Microbus, to finance it.

– Walt Disney didn’t go into severe depression when he was told that Mickey Mouse is a “giant mouse on the screen that would terrify women”; he pushed through and look at how famous and well-loved Mickey is today.

– Donald Trump was bankrupt four times (in 1991, 1992, 2004 and 2009) but his resourcefulness and innovation gave him a $2.7 billion net worth today.

5. They know that life is not fair–and they’re okay with that.

Most people feel grumpy, frustrated or disappointed because they expect life to be fair for everyone.

Why does Justin Bieber have a lot of haters? Because a lot of people don’t like the fact that he gets millions just by performing and doing his hair flips regularly.

Why are there a lot of complainers all over the world? Because they feel that they’re self-entitled to everything that their neighbors have.

Why are there crime scenes? Because people feel like they’re not given equal treatment (such as equal money with the rest of the society), they should just go ahead and make things equal. By taking the matter into their own hands, they commit crimes instead.

Optimists are not like these people. They know that life is never going to be easy–it’s never fair and it’s never predictable. In fact, they expect life to be unfair and unpredictable most of the time! They accept the fact that their friends may be given more money, that some celebrities are given more fame, and that some of their loved ones are more successful in terms of romance.

And you know what?

They’re okay with that.

Source

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Business, Business management

Business and management thoughts from Richard Branson!

Few entrepreneurs have enjoyed the overwhelming success of Richard Branson, making the opportunity to learn from his ideas, thoughts and experiences incredibly valuable!

Whatever line of work we are engaged in, whether it’s running a law practice, a title insurance firm or an ice cream stand, there are certain fundamental business principles that should be driving and guiding us all.

That said, given the career of Richard Branson that has been highlighted by both overwhelming success and by the diversity of his businesses, his thoughts are at the very least worth listening to.

These are some tips concerning business in general from the serial entrepreneur.

1) Guidelines for business 101!

Regardless of any changes in the way that business today is conducted sparked in large part by quickly and ever changing technological advances, there are five fundamental guidelines that Branson adheres to:

1. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. You must love what you do.
2. Be innovative: Create something different that will stand out.
3. Your employees are your best asset. Happy employees make for happy customers.
4. Lead by listening: Get feedback from your staff and customers on a regular basis.
5. Be visible: Market the company and its offers by putting yourself or a senior person in front of the cameras. (Source)

2) Importance of networking early and often!

‘…To get started, attend industry events and meet key players; join regional business associations and start learning about local market conditions. Also remember that you can meet potential mentors at schools, clubs and business groups. Someday, when you get stuck or when something goes wrong, these contacts will be the people you’ll turn to for help. (Finding investors is a step that follows: People buy from people, so if you’re limited in terms of who you can access, talk to and sell to, well, you probably won’t get very far.)…’ Read the entire article here.

3) Tips for growing a small business!

First, know your mission. At Virgin this was often about shaking up the established markets and providing something of great value and service. In Innocent’s case it was about creating great juices to help people lead healthier lives – and doing this in a fun way.

Second, make sure you get the basic structure right. Know what you are going to do. Many times partners can provide the back office, the infrastructure or the raw materials. By building strong relationships with such suppliers, you are free to scale the operations without heavy calls on your capital.

Third, get the right team at the top. It’s hard to get this right first time. Many small businesses fail to grow because they don’t identify team members who can no longer keep up. It’s sometimes necessary to part company with senior managers who cannot develop the businesses, painful as that may be.

Fourth, a strong purpose and a sense of ethics give the company a solid foundation. In Innocent’s case the focus was on leaving the planet a little better than they found it. This simple but effective message resonates with both staff and customers, whether they number 10 or 500 people.

Fifth, no matter how big you are, details count. Just as I remain obsessive about traveling on our planes and visiting our businesses with my notebooks to chat with staff and check the little touches that make our experience unique, Richard Reed and his partners do the same. They regularly check everything from the lids on their bottles – which ask customers to “enjoy by” and not “use by” a certain date – to the carpets in their offices, which are a distinctive Astroturf.

Finally, listen to your customers and act on what you hear. I’ve always asked our staff for their views and now I track our social media channels to see how our business and brand are doing. Innocent makes a virtue of asking their customers for their views. They use the feedback to inform growth and keep them connected. Read the entire article here.

Michael Haltman, President
mhaltman@hallmarkabstractllc.com
516.741.4723
http://www.hallmarkabstractllc.com

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