How Can Duncan Bannatyne Spend So Much Time on TV and Still Grow a Multi-Million Pound Business?

Some years ago, I interviewed Duncan Bannatyne as part of my research into high-performing entrepreneurs. The first time I first met him, Duncan wasn’t as famous as he is today; he hadn’t yet starred in Dragons’ Den. However, he was a hyper-successful entrepreneur who was listed in the Sunday Times Rich List and could freely choose how he spent his time. In fact, Duncan had bid £7,000 at a charity auction and won a walk-on-part in a Guy Richie movie. He enjoyed it so much, he decided he wanted to become an actor – and let his people run his companies (in here is a clue to Duncan’s success!)

He told me he’d just finished studying at the New York Film Academy, which is off the Strand near Trafalgar Square in London, but his subsequent auditions hadn’t gone well. Even with this lack of success in the movies, his star quality and ‘winning smile’ shone through, and it’s no surprise to me that Duncan has become a household name for his TV work.

I interviewed Duncan at the Park Lane hotel in Piccadilly, asking the same questions I had asked many UK entrepreneurs.

Duncan said one thing to me that day which, at the time, didn’t register with the potency it does now as I look back and reflect on those particular words.

He told me he had a Board meeting the following day and that he should have looked at his accounts but didn’t because he knew they were going to be fantastic.

How did Duncan know? He knew because he had people in his company who thought and acted like him. He had people he could trust in his absence to run the business and make decisions for him, while he went off pursuing his own acting career, and in later years his own television career.

His people think and act like business owners.

Let’s look at what is going on in the mind of a business owner, the mind of somebody like Duncan Bannatyne, and the mindset and attitude you need to develop in your own employees, so that they too think, act and make decisions like a business owner.

1. Confidence and Belief

The starting point for success for any great business leader is true inner self-belief and confidence.

·Confidence in your own ability to achieve the goals you set out to achieve.
·Confidence that you can overcome any obstacles.
·Confidence that you can make your customers believe in and buy from you.

Simply put, if entrepreneurs didn’t believe in the businesses they set out to create, they wouldn’t start in the first place, because they wouldn’t be able to make the team believe or their customers believe.

Your employees need to share the same level of inner confidence as someone like Duncan.

Anybody that has a vision and takes it personally upon themselves to create a business needs to have within them an unswerving, unshakable resolve, which becomes something of substance that other people can buy into and believe in.

It goes back to the very simple fact that if you don’t believe in what you are doing you can’t make your team believe. If your team don’t believe, they can’t make your customers believe. If your customers don’t believe, they won’t buy, buy again, or recommend you. So belief is the starting point.

2. Passion and Desire

The next core trait of a business owner, or someone like Duncan, is passion and a pure unadulterated love of what they’re doing.

Passion is the fuel that drives you forward, it provides momentum and energy, and is infectious. People around you will be inspired by your passion and will pass on that energy to their team. This feeling will be conveyed to your customers who will then be compelled to buy from you.

It’s your job as the business leader to instil your passion in every member of your team.

Customers pick up on passion and belief. It is a company’s passion and belief that customers buy into.

If you show passion and deep belief in everything you do, you give your customers a memorable and remarkable experience which they will want to share with others.

But, if your employees don’t share your level of passion and belief for the business, then as a company you will never achieve high levels of success and fulfil your true potential.

Clearly people like the Barman lack that passion and desire, and if you have employees like him, you’ll never be able to create a business which customers can believe in and buy from.

Whereas if you have people like Paolo who love their job, and demonstrate business-owner-thinking, they will exude an inner confidence and passion for what they do, which in turn will send out viral shock waves into the market about how excellent your company is.

3. Courage

The third element of the mindset of a business owner is courage and the confidence to step outside your comfort zone.

So much about success at a personal and business level comes down to having the confidence and courage to conquer your own inner fears, doubts and limiting beliefs. It’s having the courage to do the very things that you are uncomfortable doing.

You only have to look at one entrepreneur, Richard Branson, who (by his own admission) is a shy person and uncomfortable in public speaking situations.

However, he knew only too well that the best way to promote his brand was for him to become the face of it. Now, whenever we think abut Virgin we automatically think about Branson. When Virgin Brides was launched, he famously dressed up as a bride himself; when he launched Virgin Cola he drove a Tank down Fifth Avenue in New York to proclaim his battle with Coca Cola. He even injured himself whilst abseiling down the Palms Resort Fantasy Tower whilst promoting his new airline route between San Francisco and Las Vegas. He personally does television and radio interviews, but speaking to an audience is not naturally comfortable for him, as it is for media personalities such as Jonathan Ross or Ricky Gervais.

However, what Branson clearly does is find an inner courage, which is fuelled by his passion and supported by his own inner belief in himself, to step outside his comfort zone, and to do the very thing he needs to do to achieve his goals.

4. Goals and Purpose

The fourth element is to have a clear purpose, clear goal, and a higher vision and mission.

You need to understand why you do the things you do.

You can have all the passion and energy in the world, but without a clear goal (which everyone understands and believes in), nothing will ever be achieved.

In the courses and books I’ve written, I talk about entrepreneurs having ‘man on the moon goals’ which are ambitious, stretch goals.

America would never have made space travel history if President Kennedy, in 1961, hadn’t set a goal to land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth.

By announcing this goal publicly, the whole team behind the mission had something real and tangible to work towards. They passionately believed in that goal and as a result, made it happen.

In your organization your team needs to have the same clarity of goals, the same higher purpose, and your own ‘man on the moon’ goals.

There may be thousands of sub-goals in order to achieve the higher purpose, but if your staff don’t understand what the higher goal is, there is no way they can help drive your company towards it.

A perfect illustration of this is the story (possibly apocryphal) of President Kennedy visiting the space station in the early 1960s when the space rocket was being developed.

In true Kennedy style he stopped to speak to somebody who was sweeping the floor. Kennedy said to the man, “What are you doing, sir?” The man sweeping the floor said, “Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

Everybody in your organization has to understand what the higher purpose of your company is. They must know what your man on the moon goals are what their part is in helping you to achieve them.

If they don’t understand what the bigger picture is and if work to them is purely a job without a sense of purpose, then there is very little reason that they will give their all. Ultimately it is the customer who will suffer.

5. Persistence and Tenacity

The fifth element of business-owner-thinking is pure persistence and the refusal to accept no for an answer.

This is a trait consistent with all high achievers. Every entrepreneur business owner you ever speak to will have endless stories where they have had to demonstrate persistence and never give up.

Inevitably in business, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. It is your inner resolve (and the inner resolve of your employees) to keep going and to push on, to overcome the endless hurdles and crushing lows, and push on through to reach your ultimate goals, which is the difference between success and failure.

Without the passion and belief, it would be all too easy to give up when faced with those endless barriers.

Famously, Branson’s engine blew up the night before the maiden flight of his Virgin Atlantic crossing. For most people this would have been a barrier, but Branson pushed on and kept going to create one of the world’s premier airlines.

Duncan Bannatyne ran out of money before finishing the build of his first nursing home. Where other people at that point may have given up and said, ‘Well, I can’t complete this because I can’t afford it’, Duncan found an ingenious, creative way of solving the problem. He asked his mother and her pensioner friends to temporarily fill the nursing home in order to persuade the bank to release the final payment of the loan which was dependent on the nursing home being full.

Stories that entrepreneurs tell you about persistence often sound like they have been made up, and are a testimony to their levels of creativity and ingenuity. It’s this level of creativity and ingenuity you need to unleash in your staff.

6. Energy Flow

The sixth trait of entrepreneurs is having positive energy and thinking positively even when times are tough.

So much in business is about the flow of energy, and creating an environment where a positive flow of energy can thrive, without being destroyed by negative people who disrupt the balance.

I used to work for a software company in London and each day the managing director would walk in, and with him through the door, would come all of his negative energy.

Prior to him walking through the door, the office would be buzzing and alive but his negative energy would soon start to infect everyone and create negative pockets throughout the company.

Virtually all companies have this negative energy in some shape or form, but coming from the business owner it is inexcusable. It’s your responsibility as a business owner or business leader to create an environment of positivity, of positive thinking, of can-do and will-do, and of ambition and drive where success can, and will be achieved.

7. Failure

Number seven is the understanding that failure is a good thing.

The reality is that nothing of any note has ever been achieved without experiencing failure along the way.

Failure is inevitable when trying something new, pushing for new heights, and new innovations, or entering new markets as entrepreneurs inherently do.

It goes without saying that not everything will work. Entrepreneurs embrace failure, see it as a positive and agree that if you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.

That’s not to say that they actively seek it, but when it comes along they are ready to react. It doesn’t get them down because their belief, passion and their drive keep them going.

All too often though, in companies failure is seen as a negative thing and is frowned upon.

In certain circumstances, failure through lack of attention or lack of effort should be seen this way.

But when trying new things, such as innovating and changing, it is only those companies that recognize that failure is part of the journey to success who truly will achieve higher goals.

You need people who understand that failure can be a positive thing and should be learnt from. They know that by failing they can develop wisdom and experience which will ultimately get them closer to their goals.

8. Hard Work and Hustle

Number eight is hard work and the hustle factor. It is simply taking action. It is the physical act of working with a level of commitment, intensity, and sense of urgency, that is needed to get things done to deliver results.

Duncan Bannatyne didn’t start his multiple businesses without working hard, putting in the hours, and being 100% committed to achieving his goals.

I’m sure Duncan will agree that his journey, and the journey of his team, has been fun. They’ve enjoyed it and as a result, the hard work has not seemed like hard work because it was fun.

It was fun because they were doing something they were passionate about, that they believed in and that they had the desire and the ambition to create.

If you have people who are despondent and indifferent to their work, and who see it as a chore, then how can they ever perform at a higher level? How can their own inner splendour pour out into your products and services and be felt by your customers?

It can simply never happen.

That is what customers should pick up on, the fact that you enjoy your work and love what you do.

The beautiful Apple iPod could never have been designed by someone who didn’t love and enjoy their work. It was clearly created by someone who loves music, loves design, and loves technology. It was not something that happened overnight. I would imagine it required thousands of hours of intense effort, concentration and time.

The people working on that project are clearly proud of what they’ve created. It shows in the smallest details: in the design of the iPod player, the packaging, the marketing, in the way the menu system rolls up and down, and from the constant innovation that comes from generation to generation of not only iPods but a whole range of Apple products.

Apple is a clear illustration of a company whose people embody business-owner-thinking. Their products have become so beautiful and have that wow-dazzle factor that they sell themselves.

As a result, their customers are passionate fans of Apple and now, because of the energy and buzz in the marketplace, people want to be part of Apple.

That could never have happened if the people in Apple didn’t love their work, or if they acted like the Barman I spoke about in Chapter 1.

Similarly, it wouldn’t have happened if the people in Apple were Middlemen who neither underperformed or over performed.

Putting it all together: Leadership

The net result of all of this is that business owners are actually leaders.

They are people who lead themselves to achieve their higher goals, and are able to lead and inspire their teams to achieve more.

It’s the personal development of your staff to turn them into leaders (who think, act and make decisions like business owners) that you need to focus on to achieve extraordinary results in your company.

Can anybody become a leader?

I’m often asked whether anybody can become a leader and whether everybody has these traits within them.

Without question I say the answer is yes, if that person is working in an environment that they are passionate about and have the desire for.

Everybody demonstrates this leadership ability at some point in their lives. I spoke in the previous chapter about buying a house, and the increase in business acumen and leadership you demonstrate when you want something that badly.

The same is true when you book a holiday. You immerse yourself, and for a moment in time, you become a leading expert on your desired destination, whether it is a two-week long haul trip to Thailand, or a five day skiing holiday in the Pyrenees.

A friend of mine recently wanted to get tickets for a key Manchester United European Cup game at Old Trafford. Immediately, with this goal in mind, he fought harder than he usually would and demonstrated just the kind of traits that a high achieving entrepreneur would, simply because his own ambitions and goals were aligned. He was chasing a goal that he was passionate about, that he had a burning desire for, and that he believed ultimately he could reach. Needless to say, he got his coveted tickets in the end!

Leadership ability and business-owner-thinking lies within everybody if the right circumstances arise. But this may not be the case currently with everybody in your organisation.

Your staff who are like the Barman may not show leadership ability at work, but this doesn’t mean they don’t have leadership ability within them. They just don’t have it in them for your company, or for the work that they’re doing.

The Barman could for example, be a gifted cyclist and someone who outside of work regularly organizes long-distance bicycle rides from the UK to the South of France. He could be a first-class footballer who is the captain of his local football team and leads by example. He could be a church goer who leads his church group every Sunday.

Given the right circumstances and the right motivations and desires, anybody can be a leader and a person of high-performance, but they have to be playing to their strengths and following their passion.

In your company, you need to find and actively develop people so that they play to their strengths. You need to align their passions, goals and motivations with the goals and aspirations of your organization. You need to develop your people into leaders who think like business owners, not just employees.

It is these people who will make your customers want to buy, buy again and then do your marketing for you. It is these people who will transform your workforce into your salesforce.

The European Web Hosting Boom

The web hosting industry first boomed in the United States with the high demand for web host servers that cater to the vast number of websites that cropped up in the web. From a host of smaller start-up companies to hosting providers that are backed up by giants in the telecom industry, hosting has indeed become a multi million dollar industry that has caught the fancy of investors. The web hosting boom is now being experienced in Europe, with major players competing to be the major players in the continually expanding increasingly profitable European market.

The Demand for Sophisticated Web-Hosting Services and Infrastructure in Europe

The demand for strong hosting services is driven by the need of internet businesses to have adequate and efficient backup so that that they can prevent their websites and e-commerce businesses from toppling over and going down due to traffic surges. This is why all over major European cities, scores of internet data centers (IDCs) have been built, old warehouses were refitted by specialist building contractors with specifications needed to house data storage servers.

The cost of investing in these IDCs is indeed steep; estimates from 5 years ago peg the price of a 10,000 square meter IDC at roughly 25 million pounds, still excluding operational costs. Web hosting infrastructure improvements are costly indeed. However, such costs and risks are nonetheless undertaken by investing web hosting providers just to ensure that their place in the web industry is firmly set. With their ability to provide rapid connection and secure services, they hope that they will be perfectly positioned to take advantage when the European e-commerce potential is realized.

Web Hosting Infrastructure Developments in Europe

The emergence of the European hosting services market is seen as a blessing by network operators who have set their eyes on the European market. The increasing investment in data centers all over Europe has also brought attention to these network operators and has further increased the popularity of the European market in international commerce and trade.

Some operators have even seen the value of hosting services; for most of them web hosting is the fastest growing area of their business. Their problem is not merely competition; the challenge lies in making their name recognizable by increasing their size.

However, a lot of cash is needed for this to happen and financial back-up is something most operators lack unless they bring in another bigger partner. Size can be achieved by building more data centers that can provide web hosting services to European businesses and other companies that wish to tap into the European market. Nonetheless, nit everyone sees a guaranteed profit from building data centers especially in the small cities in Europe.

Despite these doubts, more and more companies are still investing. More data centers are built in Europe each year, with network operators aiming to be leaders in the European hosting industry. Because of these investments, improvements have been seen and companies continue to upgrade its services in order to answer to an ever-growing need for hosting providers in the rich market that is Europe. A boom in this web industry has been looming in the past couple of years and, so far, network operators big and small have answered this trend.

Your First Trip Overseas on International Business

Making Contacts

Many cultures outside of the U.S. work on the basis of relationships. People prefer to work with people they know. Therefore, a cold call is often not the best approach to meeting people and making contacts. If you know someone who is close to the firm that you desire to contact, it may be best to try to first meet your counterparts with the help of this connection. Working with an organization that can assist you with your initial contact can be ideal. Many of these third-party firms are industry-related and advertise frequently in local trade magazines. Other venues through which to meet potential contacts and clients are conferences and trade shows. Many of these shows are held in the United States and it is helpful if you do some pre-investigative work. Alternatively, it is worthwhile, and may be even more beneficial, to target a local trade conference in the region in which you desire to make contacts.

Entrepreneurs and large firms should both take advantage of the resources offered to U.S. firms by the Department of Commerce (www.ita.doc.gov). A trade mission is particularly valuable for small firms who do not already have a presence in the country of interest. A trade mission to a particular country is organized by your local department of commerce for the purpose of helping you establish business contacts there. Many trade missions have notable leaders such as the mayor of your city or the business leader of a major organization to help increase visibility for the group in the country. The cost of trade missions usually ranges from $2,000-$5,000 and includes the hotel, flight and appointments. The Department of Commerce also offers a great deal of expert help, free or for a nominal fee, to assist you in creating a business plan or developing export opportunities.

Once you have made contacts and collected business cards, follow up with a letter of thanks for these people’s time. Include a press kit, which explains your firm, its products and services, and your position in the firm. If you are planning to visit your potential business partners, request an appointment by letter or fax, if e-mail and phone are not options. Be specific in what you want to cover, who will be traveling with you, and a few suggested dates, then allow time for response to your request. Try to make these arrangements at least three weeks before you travel. You may need this much time to book hotels and flights anyway.

Researching the Firm

In order to be effective in international business it is important that you conduct a fair amount of research on the firms and the marketplace in which you desire to work. An excellent start is to pick up materials and meet distributors at a trade show. Many firms now have web sites on the Internet so it is a good idea to visit them as part of your preparation. There are credible commercial firms such as Dun and Bradstreet (www.dnb.com) that can provide various reports, such a credit report, on companies you might be interested in. If the firm is large, there is a good chance something will be in the files. If the firm has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), you can access information at http://www.edgar.com

If the firm is small and does not have a U.S. office, it may be more difficult to gather information. Many companies outside of the U.S. are not required to file reports as American firms must do. Accounting practices vary worldwide, so it may be difficult to get information on some companies. If you are planning to visit a specific country, an excellent web site is http://www.tradeport.org which offers information on various countries, their key exports, current economic situation, etc., compiled from U.S. Department of Commerce data. In addition, try to talk to people who have worked with the companies you are contacting to get an idea of how they conduct business, their positive and negative points, and their management structure and decision-making process.

Creating an Agenda

Once you have made an appointment to meet with business people in another country, it is beneficial to propose an agenda to help your contacts understand what topics you intend to cover at your meeting. Many American businesswomen suggest that if you send an agenda in advance it helps clarify your position as the leader and an important participant in the business meeting. It also helps set the direction of the meeting and what you intend to accomplish.

A good agenda usually includes a statement of purpose and some idea of what you want to achieve at the meeting, as well as a list of participants who will attend and how they will contribute to the meeting. In some cultures agendas are not adhered to, because casual discussions used to build relationships are preferred before getting down to business. Other cultures follow agendas more rigidly, and your contacts will expect a fair amount of detail. Before the initial meeting, your proposed agenda may help to initiate a dialogue on what each party expects to cover at the meeting. Give your counterparts plenty of time to review your agenda and respond back with additions or alternative suggestions.

Business Cards

Business cards are very important in many cultures of the world. The information on the card helps identify who you are and your place within your organization. For women, this can help enhance credibility by showing that you are an important member of the firm and where you are in the firm’s hierarchy. Make sure you use a title that is well understood cross-culturally. For example, the titles Manager and Director are usually well understood, but titles such as Specialist may cause confusion.

If you have your business cards translated into the language of the country you are visiting before you go, make sure you select a translation firm that is adept with the local language, and then have the cards proofread by someone else who speaks the local language to ensure there are no translation mistakes. Alternatively, some business people prefer to wait until they arrive in the foreign country before they have their cards translated. Many hotels overseas have a business card translation service or can recommend a local firm. Some can translate and print cards in 24 hours, while others take a few days. Be sure to check before you go. Plan to bring a lot of business cards with you, particularly if you will be meeting large groups.

Travel to Your Business Destination

Gathering Information

If you have time, call the tourist boards of the countries you’ll be visiting and ask for maps and information on your destination. Major automobile clubs, such as AAA, also have touring books and maps by country for their members, and most libraries have travel books. Many Internet sites offer sightseeing information too. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll find that most hotels also have an English local guide and maps of the city you are visiting. You can usually get a local newspaper on the airplane to read up on the country, events, and local happenings. Most hotels offer local TV news stations and usually one is in English.

Passports and Visas

Travel to any country outside of the U.S. will require a passport. If you do not have a passport, make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to get one. You can find a passport center in your local phone book or by searching for passport applications on the World Wide Web. If you already have a passport, make sure it will not expire during the trip. Also be aware that some countries require that your passport be valid up to six months from the start date of your trip. For current information on how to get a passport and what you need for overseas travel go to [http://travel.state.gov/passport_services.html]

In addition to a passport, some countries will also require a visa. Visas allow you entry into a country for a specific period of time; they usually need to be renewed for continued visits. If you are not sure of the requirements of the country you’re planning to visit, check with the U.S. embassy or the foreign embassy in your area. Some agencies process passports and visas at the same time. Make sure you procure enough photos for your passport and visas, although some processing agencies will take photos for you. If you plan to have passport and visa photos taken on your own, determine in advance exactly what you’ll need – how many photos, what size, and what angles are required. For example, a visa photo may require partial side photography to expose your ear, whereas the passport photo is usually a frontal view. Also, certain countries, such as Brazil, may have different visa applications depending on what city in the U.S. you are from, and these requirements may change frequently. If you plan to travel in and out of the country several times during the course of your visit, be sure to get a visa allowing multiple visits. For current visa information go to: [http://travel.state.gov/foreignentryreqs.html]

Booking Your Flights

Be sure to ascertain flight availability, flight times, and rates to international destinations well in advance of your trip. Dates that are optimal for you may be holiday times for the people in the country you are planning to visit, and holiday seasons in some countries can last for weeks. This may make it difficult to reserve a flight for a specific date or time, and airline fares tend to increase during holiday seasons. If you are planning to travel to several countries within a particular region, such as Asia, Europe or Latin America, it is usually helpful to work with a travel agent who handles that region. The agent can help you with flight alternatives, hotel alliances, travel packages, and advance notice of special rates on commonly traveled flight paths.
Additional tips to keep in mind:

• If you are traveling to a country in a different time zone, make sure you check the flight arrival date and time to be sure you have sufficient time to arrive at your meetings. It is easy to make mistakes when traveling across time zones.

• Some travelers advise arriving the day before in order to adjust to significant time zone changes. You don’t want to fall asleep in the middle of a meeting.

• Make sure you reconfirm your flight 24 hours in advance. This should be done before each leg of the flight, particularly when you are outside the U.S. Flight times change frequently, and passengers are not always notified. Your hotel desk clerk or concierge – a hotel staff member who assists guests with luggage, messages, and tour reservations — will usually do this for you if you are unfamiliar with the language.

Hotels

Book your hotel in advance; do not wait until you arrive to find a hotel. Choose a hotel close to your meeting place, since many cities have heavy traffic congestion and require extra travel time. If you can, stay in a major hotel in a populated area for safety reasons. When you travel to a major city you will most likely find a hotel chain that is locally owned, as well as a European hotel chain, an Asian hotel chain and an American hotel chain. Each chain will offer a different type of setting and services. If you are accustomed to the services of American hotels, consider staying in one, at least on your first trip. Many women advise that you stay in well known hotels in populated areas, preferably with staff at the door at night for extra safety.

Luggage

For many businesswomen, international travel means a new office in a new country each day. This may require traveling by car, train or plane to the next destination each evening. Most businesswomen agree that packing light is an absolute essential for business travel. It will save you packing time at the hotel, as well as a lot of time at the baggage claim counter in airports if you can avoid checking luggage. Also, in some countries you may find that your hotel room is on the third floor and there is no elevator and no porter. Having to carry a lot of luggage up three flights of stairs is no fun at all.

Bring easy-to-carry luggage that is not too bulky; luggage on wheels is helpful. If you plan to take trains and local planes, easy-to-lift luggage will help you with overhead storage. Stick to carry-on luggage if possible, but if you have to check your bags, make sure to pack a change of clothing and some toiletries in a carry-on bag, in case your luggage gets lost.
For other business executives, international travel may mean spending several weeks in one location before moving on to the next stop. To keep luggage minimal in this situation, packing considerations should include having enough variations in your wardrobe to keep your outfits fresh. Plan for some hand washing and dry cleaning during your trip.

General Packing Tips

• To help lighten your travel load, consider making a list, outlining in detail what you need, what you can discard along the way, and what you do not need to carry. For example, four- and five-star hotels usually provide a hair dryer, shampoo, soap and bath gels.

• Pack dark, versatile clothes that don’t wrinkle and can be easily layered.

• Stick to conservative color schemes, such as gray, navy, black, olive and brown. Try to have your clothes blend with each other so you can interchange them. It is best to avoid loud colors.

• Clothing will wrinkle if it is loosely packed. Factor this in when you are choosing a travel bag.

• Try layering your clothes with dry cleaning plastic bags, or hang them in a garment bag. This helps the clothes slide against each other and not wrinkle.

• If you are flying, ask to have your garment bag hung up if there is no space lay it out in the overhead bin. If you are driving, try to hang the garment bag or lay it flat in the back seat.

• If you are using a carry-on duffel bag, consider rolling your clothes, then hanging them up as soon as you arrive.

• If you are flying, put your toiletries in zip-tight plastic bags to help guard against leaks caused by pressure changes.

• Stick to carry-on luggage if possible. If you have to check your bags, make sure to pack a change of clothes and toiletries in your carry-on bag in case your luggage gets lost.

• If you have reading to do, consider making copies so that you can discard the materials along the way so your briefcase doesn’t get filled with paper, which adds extra weight. If you have magazines, rip out or copy the articles of interest, and leave the rest behind. Consider mailing home large quantities of business papers collected along the way.

• Bathrooms vary worldwide, as does the toilet tissue. Bring some of that too if you are fussy.

• Bring an electronic adapter kit good for several countries if you have electric items such as a hair dryer or electric razor. You can find these in most electronic and travel stores. In some hotels you may also be able to borrow them at the desk.

• Bring a small travel alarm clock, as many hotels don’t provide them.

• If you are traveling to areas with varying seasons, wear comfortable clothes in layers. Many businesses do not have air-conditioning or central heating. The buildings can get very hot in the summer or very cold in the winter.

• In cool, humid winter areas, wool suits, jackets, and dresses are best since wool soaks up moisture while keeping you warm. A light jacket or cardigan sweater is usually a good item to bring anywhere. For hot, humid areas, linen and cotton suits are most comfortable.

• For rainy regions, bring a raincoat and a folding umbrella. (Some business hotels also offer umbrellas for use by their guests).

Packing for a Week

For an average business trip of one week, most women agree that one suit (a jacket and matching skirt), a coordinating skirt or slacks, and several varied blouses should suffice. If your trip extends to two weeks, then you may want to add a blazer and an additional skirt or pair of slacks. Combinations of black and white (solids and patterns) are popular among businesswomen, as they are easy to coordinate with many colors of blouses. Good walking shoes are essential to manage the cobblestones, rough construction areas and train stations, as well as inclement weather. A leather briefcase can serve as a handbag. Pack minimal makeup and jewelry.

Other considerations:

• Be creative with your business attire. Use pants, skirts, blazers and suit jackets that can give you several different combinations with a minimal number of items. Change your look with blouses, scarves and other accessories.

• Consider bringing washable silk blouses if you do not think you will have time for dry cleaning during the visit or between destinations.

• Wear neutral-colored hosiery, limited jewelry and neutral makeup.

• Bring extra undergarments for hot and humid areas where you will perspire more. Plan to wash your smalls nightly (some women bring a small plastic bottle or packets of lingerie cleaner with them).

Flying Comfortably

Depending on where you are traveling from, the airplane trip overseas can be very long. If you will have time to check in to your hotel before your first meeting, then a light sweat suit and walking shoes may be your most comfortable attire for the flight. They will also come in handy if you have time later in the trip for an evening walk around some of the local sights. If you must head directly to a meeting after landing, consider wearing comfortable attire on board, then changing clothes in the airplane bathroom or in the airport when you arrive.

When planning your flight, also consider the following:

• Drink a lot of water, as flying is very dehydrating. Water will help reduce fatigue and headaches that can come with long flights.

• Eat lightly on the plane, and even the night before you fly, to help you adjust to a different meal schedule.

• Avoid alcohol on the plane. It is dehydrating and can throw off your sleep cycle.

• Wear loose clothing and try to stretch or walk around a few times while on board to improve your circulation and avoid leg cramps.

• Take off your shoes and wear a pair of socks while flying. Your feet will probably swell, and tight shoes will become uncomfortable.

• Clogging of the ears during descent and landing is a common problem on long flights. Chewing gum and yawning may provide relief. Quickly drinking carbonated water may help as well. Another approach is the Valsalva maneuver: Hold your nose and keep your mouth open, while gently blowing out with a few short breaths. This causes the ears to pop. Other recommendations include taking a decongestant pill or using a decongestant nasal spray.

• Using a saline nasal spray two hours before you take off and 15 minutes before you land will help you clear your breathing passages.

• If you wear contact lenses, bring a spare pair or, if you wear disposable lenses, bring extras, in addition to your glasses. You may find that contacts become dry in your eyes while you are on board the plane. It is best to take them out for the flight and wear glasses. If you do wear lenses during the flight, keep lubricating drops handy and use them frequently.

• Bring a neck pillow (most travel stores carry them) to help you sleep, especially if you have a center seat on the plane. Bring sleep masks (most airlines supply these) to create darkness. Keep eye drops, toothbrush and toothpaste, lip balm, eye cream (there are also re-hydrating eye patches), and a face toner in your purse to help you feel refreshed during the flight.

Currency

To avoid airport lines later, some travelers prefer to exchange enough money for the taxi ride to the hotel before they board their international flight. Others wait until they arrive and exchange money at one of the local bank stalls at the airport. Many airports have ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) on site. Most travelers prefer to use ATMs as they offer the best currency exchange rates with the lowest administration fees.

European Debt Crisis Offers Opportunities for US Companies

Baron Rothschild, an 18th century British nobleman, said, “the time to buy is when there’s blood in the streets.” Rothschild knew what he was taking about. He made his fortune buying in the panic that followed the Battle of Waterloo.

The current panic involving the EU debt situation won’t be resolved overnight and risks of the crisis getting worse are very real. However, it appears the EU political and business leaders (including those in Germany) remain committed to insuring the survival of the EU and the euro currency.

Even so, many global financial experts are continuing to worry about: 1) whether Spain and Italy will default (whose effects would be far reaching); and 2) whether the German public will continue to support the bail out of the weaker members of the EU.

An important question for US companies is: how can they take advantage of the current uncertainty in the European business market?

The debt crisis will put pressure on some European companies to divest assets

We believe there’s going to be many more opportunities for U.S. companies in Europe because ultimately when countries get squeezed, banks get squeezed and then corporations’ credit get squeezed. As a result, those companies are going to look for financial help or are going to need to divest assets.

A weaker euro means U.S. companies can acquire European companies for less

Many currency experts are predicting that the European debt problems will cause the weakening of the euro currency against the US Dollar. If the euro weakens, US companies will be in their best position in years as pertains to the purchase of European companies. Indeed, we are noticing a growing number of U.S companies looking to expand in Europe through acquisitions.

The recent decline in European stock values provide a buying opportunity

While it is not certain how long the current drop in stock values will last, no one is predicting a return to the high levels we saw earlier this year anytime soon. Many US companies have strong balance sheets and cash reserves. In the short term, the combination of a weaker euro, slowing economic growth and depressed stock prices provide a “perfect storm” of elements that favor opportunistic acquisition activities.

Despite slower growth Germany remains a very attractive investment location

Germany remains the most popular investment location in Europe because of its continuing financial strength and political stability. Even with slower than predicted growth, the German GDP is still expected to grow 3% in 2011. If only the US had the “problem” of 3% growth!

The European debt crisis is a very fluid situation. The heated debates between EU countries and Germany on the solution will continue to cause unrest in the global financial markets. However, the current financial panic offers a tremendous opportunity for US companies looking to buy in Europe.