Monday, April 21, 2008

Are You a Doer or a Spectator?

American Idol is the #1 show for Fox and it has a strong audience. I do not watch it, however, I am quite familiar with it. The other day I was having a cup of coffee reading my newspaper and minding my own business when two older men sat two tables away from me, they spoke so loud I was able to hear their conversation, they were bashing the current American idol contestants, one of the man said "they are terrible, I can do it better!" I refrained from voicing my opinion but I thought well "why don't you?" Obviously, those two men did not have the courage to go on stage to perform, otherwise, their conversation would have a different tone.

When entrepreneur decides to open his/her business many people begin to give their advice, most of the time without asking and most of these are poor advices. You may feel you do not want to hurt their feelings but you will need to decide to whom you should listened to.

As an entrepreneur you should know where to find your answers. You should have a team of advisers: CPA/Accountant, Attorney/Paralegal, Banker, Financial Planner, Insurance Agent. You should be a member of at least a couple of Chamber of Commerce, the more people you are exposed to the more you will be promoting your business and service, plus you will meet other business owners that may share the same challenges that you are facing, you may even learn from their experienced and apply it to your business. On today's paper on the Financial Times a headline stated: "Citi turns to HP for crisis advice" as you can see even big corporation learn from each other. Below is the article.

Citi turns to HP for crisis advice

By Francesco Guerrera and Kevin Allison in San Francisco
Published: April 21 2008 22:04 Last updated: April 21 2008 22:04

Citigroup has turned to Hewlett-Packard, the information technology group, for advice on how to revive its fortunes without breaking up the company – a novel move that underlines Citi’s efforts to defend its controversial business model.

People close to the situation said Citi’s top executives had recent talks with their counterparts at HP to learn how, over the past three years, the IT group managed to overcome a crisis similar to Citi’s.

The decision to tap the expertise of HP, which rebuffed investor pressure to spin off its computer business from the rest of the group, comes as Citi has been urged by some investors and analysts to split its wholesale and retail banking operations.
A big union – the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees – is expected to renew the call for a break-up of Citi’s universal banking model at Tuesday’s annual shareholder meeting.

Other investors could also urge Vikram Pandit, Citi’s chief executive, to take radical action to reverse a 54 per cent fall in its share price over the past year and restore the company to profitability after two quarters of multi-billion dollar losses.
Citi on Tuesday prepared to sell up to $6bn of hybrid securities to bolster its balance sheet. Traders said the bank was offering the securities, which will pay a fixed interest rate over 10 years, in the market but terms had not yet been set.

Citi’s consultation with HP comes as Mr Pandit restructures the bank’s sprawling information technology operations in an effort to curb expenses, and cut jobs and layers of bureaucracy. The talks between the two companies have focused on IT issues, as well as general strategy, say people close to the situation.

Since replacing Chuck Prince in December, Mr Pandit has sought advice from several current and former executives, including John Reed, former head of Citicorp, one of Citi’s predecessor companies. Mr Reed was an enthusiastic proponent of the idea that efficient IT systems were crucial to the success of banking groups.
Citi and HP declined to comment.

People close to the situation say Citi officials see parallels between their situation and that faced by HP in February 2005 after the acrimonious departure of Carly Fiorina as chief executive. Ms Fiorina’s departure re-ignited debate about whether HP should spin off its personal computer business, whose low margins had been dragging down profits.

Morale was also at rock bottom after a tumultuous six years that had seen the dotcom boom and bust capped by HP’s controversial $19bn merger with Compaq.
However, Mr Fiorina’s successor, Mark Hurd, ruled out a break-up, and focused instead on making better use of HP’s PC business. HP began using its PC group’s scale to save costs. By the end of last year, profitability at HP’s PC group had almost caught up to that of HP’s archrival Dell. HP’s shares have risen nearly 17 per cent over the past year.

Mr Pandit also has rejected the idea of a break-up, arguing in a recent interview with the Financial Times that Citi’s model is a strength, not a weakness.
Like Mr Hurd at the beginning of his tenure, Mr Pandit has launched a cost-cutting programme, hoping to slash Citi’s $60bn cost base by up to 20 per cent.
Mr Pandit also intends to sell non-core businesses.