Would You Be a Bad Boss? How to Tell

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There’s something to be said about being your own boss. You’re the one making the decisions, and are the master of your professional domain. Instead of having to do jobs and tasks you don’t like, you could easily hire someone else to do them or make an employee take on the task. If you dislike an employee, you don’t have ignore your feelings to get through the work day; you could just fire them.

If you read that last paragraph and agreed with every point, you may want to re-think your decision to enter the world of management. Everybody wants to be their own boss or have the opportunity to manage others, but that doesn’t mean that they should. Before you decide that you are management or boss material, you should learn about what doesn’t make a good boss.

You hate meetings

This may sound like a silly thing to hate but, once you become a manager, many of your daily activities will be centered around meetings: you’ll have meetings to introduce yourself to new hires and train them; you’ll have meetings with prospective clients; and you’ll have regular staff meetings to get updates and brainstorm problems. Meetings may bore you to tears, but they’re an absolute necessity for any manager. If you can’t run a proper meeting, or would rather not deal with them, you aren’t ready to be a manager.

You want to be “hands off”

Before you make the counter-argument that you don’t want to micromanage your employees, consider the fact that there are two different kinds of hands-off bosses. The good kind lets his or her employees do their work, and only gets involved when they absolutely have to. They’re always around to give direction and feedback, and they still keep abreast of daily activities. The bad kind of hands-off boss pretty much believes that the office can run itself, and will happily spend their days pursuing personal interests while their employees try to manage the business without them. That kind of hands-off boss will have a lot of resentful employees, and a business that they no longer have true control over. Even big bosses like Charles Bouri still have to be in the office on some days, and still have to give employees a helping hand.

You hate conflict

Nobody wants to fight, and everybody wants things to run smoothly. Unfortunately, things come up in the work place and, as the boss, you will have to play the mediator at some point or other. The boss/manager roll isn’t for pushovers, or for people that shy away from standing up for themselves. You’re going to have to be a little tough and if you can’t handle the thought of dealing with an office squabble, the management path isn’t for you.

When Is It Right to Quit?

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There is a dangerous myth circulating that a surprising number of people buy into. This is a myth that we tell our children, teach in our schools, and all too often fall prey to in business, as well. It’s a myth that can lead to dead ends, wasted money, and even wasted years of a life. That myth is simple: quitters never win, and winners never quit.

Charles Bouri has seen firsthand how common it is for hardworking, dedicated, talented people to fall victim to this myth. All too often, it undermines their success, leading them to spend far too long on something that won’t work when they could be learning from their failure, moving on, and putting their effort toward something more fruitful. There certainly is real value in enduring hardship and persevering when others say it’s hopeless. But in business, at least, there are times when it’s a lot better to take a step back and set a new course.

Knowing when to quit is a virtue in business. Here are some of the many benefits:

  • Minimizing debt and losses – Continuing to pursue a failing idea is expensive. While entrepreneurs thrive on stories of getting a success on the hundredth try, the reality for most products and companies is that, if they’re failing, they either need a clear road map to turn them around or they need to get out. Pushing onward will mean losses and may even cause you to take out loans to fund your operational costs—never a good position to be in.
  • Discovering promising new ideas – Sometimes, quitting doesn’t mean giving up altogether, but deciding on a new course toward your long-term goal. Maybe this product, service, brand or website isn’t doing it—but can you imagine a new one that would? Quitting allows you to pivot to a more promising idea.
  • Saving money you can put toward more promising investments – If you do eventually pivot, you’re going to need capital for that idea, too. It’s better if you still have funding left when you make the switch, and that means switching over ASAP.
  • Developing a reputation for sound management – Experienced businessmen know that sometimes you have to make the hard choice and cut losses. It can be hard to close a company, but doing so can gain you respect, while running it into the ground does the opposite.

It can be hard to tell when it’s time to quit and when it’s time to push onward. Have you ever quit something? What is your policy on “giving up”?

3 Reasons the Manufacturing Sector Isn’t Dead

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Like all business leaders, Charles Bouri has learned valuable lessons from the collapse of the manufacturing industry in the United States and other developed nations. Unlike other observers, however, Charles isn’t ready to hold manufacturing’s funeral just yet. Here are three reasons Charles Bouri doesn’t think that the manufacturing sector is dead:

1.  People still need stuff – With the demise of so many blue collar jobs, and a dip in consumption following the worldwide recession, it’s easy to imagine that manufacturing will never snap back. But the reality is that people still need stuff—and lots of it—no matter what the economy is doing. Even when consumerism is at an all-time low, people still need cars, electronics, household goods, building materials, and dozens of other basics that are produced in factories around the world. Technology experts may be excited about an increasingly digital economy, but it all still requires physical parts to run. There is no end of manufacturing in sight.

2.  Demand is increasing in the developing world – We tend to think of the developing world as the place stuff comes from, not the place stuff goes to. But that’s an increasingly false dichotomy. Standards of living continue to rise in nations like China, India, Indonesia and other developing nations, and nations across Africa and Asia are growing upper and middle classes. This means that these nations are increasingly becoming consumer-driven in their own right, and that over the long run of the next three decades demand for manufactured goods could actually go up. Additionally, as costs rise in these countries, it will be less advantageous to take blue collar jobs overseas and we may see a resurgence at home.

3.  The need for specialized manufacturing is up – Not all types of manufacturing have been impacted equally. Fabrication, tech assembly, and other specialized niches continue to require a creative mindset, good engineering, and high standards, and companies that can check those boxes will only see their client base grow.

Of course, there is no doubt that the economy has shifted and that, at least in developed nations, assembly and manufacturing jobs are at an all-time low while more companies either focus on the creative economy or rely on cheaper labor elsewhere. But it’s important to put this change in perspective and realize that our basic need to have things put together properly, at large scale, has not changed—and that means there is still business opportunity.

Why Location Isn’t Everything

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We’ve all heard the old saw that “location is everything” and that in business what you need is “location, location, location.” There’s a lot of truth to this little gem of common wisdom, but successful businessman Charles Bouri says it can also be misleading. Bouri has seen too many businesses invest everything in location and still manage to stumble. That’s because any great location is a double-edged sword and comes with its share of challenges, which businesses aren’t always ready to meet.

So what exactly is the problem with a killer locale? Here are three things Charles Bouri says can go wrong:

Over-competition

One of the biggest problems with chasing down a prime location is that all of your competitors are doing the same. We’ve all seen neighborhoods that have four of the same type of business on the same street, or two competitors directly kitty corner to each other. This can be advantageous in the sense that you have a chance to scoop up customers headed to your competitor’s store—but it works against you for the same reason. Ultimately, the “best” location may be an under-served neighborhood, even if it has less traffic or visibility, rather than the in the shopping district where you have to fight over that traffic flow. Being the only game around can lead to strong early growth and a loyal base of customers by the time a competitor finally does move in.

Cost

Hands down the biggest drawback of a good location is the price you’ll pay for it. Building owners know the value that’s placed on a prime location and they will price it accordingly—often even higher than it’s worth. When you consider that you also have the usual costs involved in opening a location on top of the high lease price, getting close to all that customer traffic may be too expensive to justify. Plenty of crowded, popular businesses have gone under simply because their bills were too high – this is a major danger in any in-demand location.

Wrong type of crowd

There are different kinds of good locations with different kinds of shoppers, and not all of them will be right for your business. For example, a seemingly prime location like a popular shopping center may not be a good spot for a cash advance business, but that same business may do very well in a traditionally undesirable location like a low income neighborhood. You have to find the right type of customer for you.

How much do you consider location when launching a business?

Common Mistakes Business Owners Make and How to Avoid Them

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Being a business owner can be tough, especially if you’re new to the business management role. Nobody is perfect, and being in charge of a business doesn’t make you any less human. Business managers like Charles Bouri had to do a lot of learning through trial and error at the start of their role, and you’ll make a few mistakes of your own. While you will make some unavoidable mistakes, there are some more troublesome problems you can avoid if you’re prepared. When you start your new business, try to avoid these common mistakes:

Thinking you can do it all

The first few years of your business may have you doing a lot more “behind the scenes” work than you anticipated. It’s actually very common, and if anything it’s to be expected. You should be involved with your business, but you shouldn’t feel like you every little task has to begin and end with your supervision and approval. People hire employees and managers for a very good reason, mainly since business owners were never meant to have to do everything by themselves. If you feel like you have to do everything because you know that who you have on staff won’t be able to do it, you need re-evaluate your employees.

Keeping on troublesome employees for too long

Your other employees have complained about them, you can hardly get along with them, and even some customers have made a few complaints about them. An employee is bound to make a few mistakes, but continual problems are something that shouldn’t be tolerated. Some people are reluctant to fire an employee that isn’t working out because they feel like they’ve sunk too many hours into training them, but that is a perfect example of a sunk-cost fallacy. Others don’t want to have to deal with the hassle of finding another employee to fill their shoes. While both are valid points, dealing with an employee’s mistakes will end up being much more troublesome than having to get rid of someone.

Ignoring customer feedback

The only way you’ll know if you’re a successful business is to have satisfied customers, and you won’t be able to know that unless you take time to see if they’re happy with your goods and services. Customers and clients are the lifeblood of your business, and their opinions and feedback are very valuable. Most people just assume their new business is naturally doing well because they believe in it, but if you don’t have paying customers that share your vision your business days will be over. Always ask new and returning customers how they feel about your services.

Tips for Running a Business in 2015

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The New Year is here, and it’s time to look to the future and get your business ready. After all, resolutions aren’t just for individuals. Maybe there’s a specific goal that you want your company to achieve or perhaps you just want to have a good year. So how are you going to succeed in 2015? Charles Bouri has learned many lessons about business over the years. Here are his dos and don’ts for 2015:

1.  Don’t give in to the technology gimmes – Technology absolutely plays a critical role in today’s economy, from your web presence to the latest manufacturing processes. However, we hear a lot about technology—every week brings a new doodad that you absolutely need to have, or a new social media platform that you have to use or you’ll become obscure. Take the time to inform yourself about new tech trends, but don’t feel that you have to utilize every single one. It’s better to choose a few high-value tech investments, whether that’s a social media strategy or a new inventory management system, and focus your full attention on them. That way, you can use them successfully and get your full ROI rather than scattering your resources across dozens of unsuccessful tech lunges.

2.  Do create content – Bearing in mind what we said above, if there’s one area of digital strategy that every business should focus on in 2015 it’s creating high-quality content online. The content on your website does a lot more than just flesh out your blog, it impacts your SEO to allow more potential customers to find you, and it helps establish you as an authority and resource in your industry. It is a crucial intermediate step that helps turn casual Internet traffic into customers.

3.  Don’t fall behind your industry – Every business owner or leader should take time once a week to brush up on news from across their industry. This can include the blogs of competitors, new business technology, and news stories of all kinds. You don’t necessarily have to act on any of this information right away but, by staying knowledgeable about the state of your industry, you will be able to connect dots and guide strategy more easily.

4.  Do be a connector – No matter what your industry, help people connect whenever you can. Most people go to “networking” events mainly to get contacts or customers for themselves, but there can be far more value in helping other people to make the contacts they need. This puts you in the position of being a resource or guide to others, and they will be grateful for it. No one has ever lost out by connecting others.

What other business tips do you have for the New Year?

4 Tips from Charles Bouri on How to Be a Leader in Business

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Charles Bouri has helped turn Seament into a world leading business, but that success didn’t come easily. Here are four of Charles Bouri’s best tips on how to lead a business to success:Charles Bouri

  1. Be clear.
    Most of us who run businesses have big ideas—usually too many big ideas than we’ll ever be able to accomplish in a lifetime. We’re always thinking of possible products, possible businesses, and ways to make things more efficient, ways to grow and expand. To dream and create is what it means to be a founder of a business. But just because we see our own vision so clearly does not mean that those around us do (including employees). Never assume that everyone on your team understands the big picture in your head. Communicate your ideas over and over, with clear indications like benchmarks, short term goals, and the long term outcomes you’re after. And talk to staff or project managers regularly to gauge how well they understand these goals and their part in them, and how well they are moving toward them as a team. The clearer you can be in what you expect, the better your team can perform.
  2. Nab and nurture.
    Getting great staff is what it’s all about, right? From that genius creative to the high-performing salesperson to the most experienced manager in your field, we all want staff working on our team who are above and beyond. But just finding and hiring these high-performers is not enough. Once you find those hires that make you extra excited, you also need to nurture them along the way. That means several things: giving them challenges that are worthy of their talents, giving them the support and guidance they need to tackle those challenges, and listening to their ideas for improving a project. Perhaps most of all, it means giving them rewards as they succeed—not just bonuses or raises, but increased responsibility so they continue to feel challenged and valued.
  3. Share the stakes.
    What does it mean to be part of a team under a great leader? It doesn’t just mean that each team member knows their role and does it. It means they know what bigger picture that role fits into, why the work is important, and what the stakes are. What is it that gets you excited about your company’s latest product or project? Whatever it is, make sure your staff know about it and that your excitement is infectious.
  4. Then share the victory.
    If your whole team feels like they are part of something that matters, then they should feel like part of its success as well. Celebrate victories, thank staff members, and make sure every individual knows that their contributions mattered.

It’s important that leaders like Charles Bouri understand their role in the company’s success and the value they hold in communicating with employees. By following the above tips, you can ensure you’re a leader within your own organization.

4 Challenges of Running a Family Business (and How to Overcome Them)

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Charles Bouri grew up involved in his father’s business, Seament, from a young age. Charles always knew he was going to follow in his father’s footsteps, and together the family made Seament strong. But running a family business has challenges, as well – some that have to be faced in order to remain functional and successful together.

Here are four key challenges to operating a family business, and the solutions that Charles Bouri has found:

1.  Objectivity – This can be a major stumbling block for many family businesses. One of the great advantages of a family business is that you start off with a stable group of employees that you know you can trust—because they’re your family. But this can also make it hard to see changes that need to be made (or to broach these subjects when you do see them). Remember that successful businesses are built on merit. Performance, not just family ties, has to be rewarded. Periodically, you need to assess the people in key roles (especially if they’re family members) and ask what you would do if they were a total stranger you’d hired. Are they living up to expectations? If so, great; but if not, look at other options for their involvement.

2.  Assigning the right roles to the right people – This goes hand in hand with #1 and often, a simple change in roles can be enough to solve any problems with a family member’s performance. Not everyone is good at managing projects, but if a loved one is struggling in that capacity maybe they’d be better at sales or keeping the books. And if a family member is chomping at the bit to get a position with more responsibility, consider setting specific benchmarks (in terms of performance or training) that will allow them to get their shot. Likewise, don’t overlook the contribution of non-family members; your hired employees may sometimes deserve a promotion over your relatives, and treating them fairly is going to go a long way toward ensuring their hard work and your success.

3.  Accepting free spirits – If you run a family business, chances are good that you’d like to see your kids carry it on after you. But what if they don’t want to? Some family members will have their own dreams or simply be too independently-minded to stay in the family business. Give them their freedom—it will make everyone happier in the long run.

4.  Opening it up – As your business expands, it will likely outgrow your family. That’s when it’s time to put the most dedicated and capable family members in leadership positions and transition the workings of the company to outside hires.

Do you run a family business? How have you overcome these challenges?

How Charles Bouri Revolutionized the Industrial World

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The past few decades have been a time of tremendous change across the world. Riding on the rising tide of the modernization of the twentieth century, and leveraging an increasingly globalized economy, numerous underdeveloped nations around the world have built strong industrial economies and begun to play catch up with world leaders in the West. While many factors, companies, and individuals have contributed to this rise, in many nations the work of Charles Bouri and his family has played a key role.

Different developing nations have leaped forward in different ways, expanding into many various industries. However, one thing that all of these nations need, regardless of their main exports, is reliable, affordable construction. And in much of the world, that construction depends on cement.

Cement is often overlooked, despite its role in the developed world. It is one of the most unique and versatile building materials ever created, and its invention heralded a new age of architecture, design, and affordable construction. The great advantage of cement is that it’s a pourable material. That means that it can take almost any shape, matching the form that it’s poured into. Once it has dried this form can be removed, leaving pristine sculpted cement. This allows it to be used as paving, in foundations, in walls, and in incredibly tall buildings.

More than that, cement itself has physical properties that make it an ideal construction material: it’s strong, durable, and holds weight well; shock and impact pass through it much better than they do many other materials; it’s also generally inexpensive to make, while just as reliable (if not more so) than more expensive materials. In fact, cement with metal mesh inside of it is one of the most versatile building materials available.

Thus, cement is perfect for developing countries that need to rapidly expand infrastructure or put up new construction. But not every country has the mineral deposits or manufacturing centers to create cement, and many developing countries need to import it. This is where Charles Bouri and his family’s company, Seament, made their mark.

The Bouri family witnessed a cement shortage in Nigeria, where most seaports were not capable of accommodating large cement ships. While cement prices skyrocketed, they brainstormed ways to bring cement in cheaply. They ended up inventing an ingenious “floating port” that would allow cement to be offloaded out in the harbor and then shuttled ashore.

This was the birth of Seament and sister company Sabulk, which the Bouri family still manage today. Thanks to Charles Bouri and Seament, developing nations around the world have easy access to low-cost, reliable cement.

3 Important Traits All Successful Leaders Have

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If you’re familiar with the widely successful cement business, Seament, then ySeament_pic2ou’ve undoubtedly heard about Charles Bouri, the son of Seament’s founder, Alexander F. Bouri. After earning his degree in Business Administration from Richmond University in the UK, Charles Bouri went on to become not just a general manager of Seabulk and employee of Seament and many of their other divisions, but an inspiring leader. He has proven to possess the skills that all successful leaders have, including the three listed here:

1.  The desire to learn. Successful leaders aren’t simply born great. They have to be trained in their skills and learn from the best. Charles Bouri was no exception. Being the son of Alexander F. Bouri, Charles Bouri was taught all of the ins and outs of Seament, the business he’d go on to be the general manager for. More importantly, Charles Bouri was exposed to strong leadership from an early age as he watched his father. It’s safe to say that Charles Bouri successfully followed in his father’s footsteps.

2.  The desire to do good in the world. Charles Bouri isn’t just a businessman; he’s a philanthropist, too. The best leaders are those who wish to use their skills and success to do good in the world. As an employee at Seament, Charles Bouri has shipped out millions of metric tons of cement to developing countries, which has helped to give them an advantage and access to modern prosperity. The desire to do good in the world speaks volumes for businessmen – it shows that they are strong leaders both within and outside of their respected companies.

3.  They are innovative. A good worker may do what they are told, perform their job well, and stick to the general routine of things. However, a successful leader goes above and beyond. They are creative and willing to think outside the box, and Charles Bouri is the perfect example of an innovative, successful leader. Seament isn’t just your typical cement company. Seament’s distribution of quality bulk materials and their expertise in all areas of bulk handling, shipping, and terminal management has made them leaders in the cement industry and has helped to revolutionize the business. Through strong leaders within the company like Charles Bouri, they have created new methods to ensure efficiency, responsibility, and competitive pricing.

There are many positive traits that can be found in successful business leaders, and while they may vary by industry, personality, and skill set, they all have these three basic traits.