Monday, June 16, 2014

Can you get a slice of the ‘Biggest transference of wealth in US business history’?

Author: Gery Juleff
             Manager, North American Power

Warren Buffet has called the deregulation of the retail energy sector the ‘biggest transference of wealth in US business history.'  Legendary CEO Jack Welch in a recent CNBC interview described the deregulation of energy as ‘the internet in 1990' and went on to say that, “energy is the lifeblood of an economy.”

But how can you, assuming you don’t have significant assets to invest, benefit?

A number of companies have entered the market using a direct sales model – otherwise known as a home-based business or, in some cases, multi-level marketing. I was initially wary – after all, there have been many stories about people losing money through this model. But I explored further as the model did fit my personal circumstances – for family reasons I wanted to work part-time and flexibly.

After all, Direct Sales is simply a way to move a product or service directly to a consumer instead of through a retail location. This is typically achieved through an independent distributor or representative sales force – and companies reward these people rather than pay advertisers, marketing departments, etc. Over 15 million people are involved in direct selling in the United States. Most are women, although nearly a third are men or two-person teams such as couples. Direct Sales in the United States grew to $32 billion in 2012, up from $29 billion in 2010.

I realized that, in theory, the convergence of deregulation, direct sales, and energy had created a tremendous opportunity for individuals if they could find the right vehicle. In addition, this was a product that everybody bought anyway, and there was no need to stock any product. This convergence allows any individual, with little or no experience, to build a business that would generate long-term income on the customers they help to save money through energy deregulation.

I then looked at a number of the main companies. All had their plusses and I have given links to the main ones below. But I had a couple of key criteria which were important to me. I felt that the best way to build a really substantial income would be through enabling others to do the same – build a network. But I was not comfortable with a model which depended on persuading others to pay an enrollment fee – I had done some research and realized that the vast majority of those who did this in the MLM model lost their investments. And I wanted to work with a company that had a commitment to renewable energy, not just because I felt that this was important but also because any company that had this focus would be more inclined to be forward-looking and a good long term bet.

In the end, I went with North American Power. It has a focus on renewable energy and a no-investment, no risk business model. Forbes had made it one of America’s Most Promising Companies and it had won numerous American Business Awards. I then met the co-founder and CEO, Kerry Breitbart, and was blown away by his transparent integrity and his vision. It also had philanthropy at its heart. I felt that this was a company that I could be passionate about while building a great business, making money while doing good – for the environment, for some great charities and for those who I enrolled who would go on to ease their own financial worries or even achieve their dreams.

It is not easy – nothing that is truly worthwhile doing is. And others will have different criteria and choose different companies. But there is a simplicity to it and huge potential. It is, obviously, not for everybody but there is no doubt that the potential is there for those who wish to grasp it and I would be happy to discuss options with anybody who is interested.

Here are the companies that I looked at:
Ambit; $428 enrollment fee;

Ignite/Stream; not clear what the start-up costs are – you have to contact the company to find out;

Veridian; focus on renewable energy, $299 enrollment fee;

US Power and Gas; no enrollment fee, but a focus on commercial accounts;

North American Power; no enrollment fee, focus on renewable energy;

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Working with Recruiters to Find a Job

Author:  David Schuchman
               Information Technology Manager of Projects and Teams

It is common to work with a recruiter or search firm to find your next job. Keep in mind that many published sources have indicated that only about 10% of job hunters find a new position using search firms. As a result, using recruiters as a resource should consume no more than 10% of your time. Keep these facts in mind so you optimize your use of a search firm as a productive job search resource:

Recruiters work for employers, not job hunters
A recruiter’s job is to find the best talent for the position their client employer is seeking to fill based on the employer's requirements. They work to find talented individuals who have done the job already for a prior employer, or people ready to move up to the next level in their same career path. While they help individuals whom they are able to place, it is not their primary responsibility to provide assistance or guidance for job seekers.

Different Types of Recruiters

  • Contingency recruiting companies are paid only when their client company hires a candidate they submit. For each position, employers may offer multiple recruiting companies the opportunity to work on the same job posting. They only pay a fee to the recruiter who actually finds the right talent, and the process can be a very competitive. Contingency recruiting is the most common type.
  • Retained Search recruiting companies are paid by a company to take on an exclusive role in a given search. They typically receive an up-front retainer fee. The remainder of the fee is paid on an installment basis as the search progresses. This is often used for high level executive searches. 
  • Corporate Recruiters are usually company employees seeking to fill internal positions.

Recruiters have limited time (like everyone)
Recruiters are likely to be very responsive to people they see as strong potential candidates for their clients' job orders. They are likely to be much less responsive to individuals who are not perceived as potential candidates. In addition, most recruiters don't have the time to respond to the many unsolicited resumes or phone calls that they receive virtually every week. When you do find those few recruiters that spend time to build a relationship with candidates, keep them active in your network.

Recruiters help job hunters get the best compensation
Typically, recruiting fees are based as a percentage of a new hire's first year base salary. Therefore, the more you earn, the more they earn. Often recruiters have inside information about what the company is willing to pay, and are able to obtain the highest salary that the company is willing to offer for the position.

Working with a recruiter can be a great benefit in your job hunt, but only if you understand their role in the hiring process. Budget your time appropriately when working with recruiters to maximize your efforts and results.

[A version of this posting appeared in the January 16, 2014 “TechTopics4U” blog]