Monday, August 4, 2014

Navigating the Internet: 4 Tips Every Business Owner Should Know

If you’re a business owner like Alexander Bouri, you hopefully know about the importance of having a good web presence.  You’d think that almost every business in 2014 would have a website, but there are thousands of businesses that aren’t taking advantage of everything the Internet has to offer.   The E-Marketer, Barlow Researchers, U.S. Census Bureau, and Jupiter Research did a study on small businesses and their presence online – and in 2009, a mere five years ago, only 43% of small businesses had a website.  If you’re new to working online, creating and managing a website can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.  When you make your new website or hire someone to do it for you, remember to keep these things in mind:

Avoid making it flashy
When it comes to website design, sometimes less can be more.  A webpage that’s full of pictures, flashing links, and other visual features are very distracting to website users.  Websites with an abundance of flashy visuals can be very visually unappealing, and have the opposite visual affect you’re trying to have. Maintain a good balance between your written content, pictures, and empty background space to make your website easy to navigate and appealing to others.
Use simplify navigation
Is there anything more frustrating than trying to look at a website that doesn’t display correctly or has confusing navigation?  A lot of websites have a navigation bar at the top of each page so that users can easily find whatever page they need to look for.  Others make the navigation bar automatically scroll when the user scrolls down so that they can always have access to it.  Either way, make it as easy as possible for visitors to find what they need to avoid frustration and therefore keep them on the site longer. While you’re at it, don’t forget to add a search bar so that it’s easy to find exactly what they’re looking for.

Remember to update
You want to have a website so that people can easily learn about your business, but you also want to give them something that will keep bringing people back.  Make sure to update your website with news about the company, industry news, blog posts, and anything that people that frequent your business would find interesting.

Be social
Today, social media can make or break your business.  A funny tweet or a Facebook post about a sale can help give your business a lot of positive attention.  Make a Google+ page for businesses to boost your SEO standings, and see what people are saying about you on Yelp and other business review websites.

In a world where people are glued to their smart phones and tablets nearly 24 hours a day, it’s crazy to think that businesses don’t need a website or a web presence. By following the above tips, you can ensure your website is a major asset to your business.

Monday, July 14, 2014

4 Tips on Starting Your Own Business

Does the idea of having your own business interest you? Or maybe you have had an urge lately to start your own business. Either way, coming up with your own business is a pleasant idea out there for many. However, some people wish to turn these dreams of owning a business and proving themselves as talented entrepreneurs into a reality.

There are many successful entrepreneurs out there, such as Alex Bouri, who began the cement company called Seament. Had it not been for his ambition, compassion, and intuitive entrepreneurial skills, he might not have made it this far, but he has been an entrepreneur for a long time now. It all started with a dream for Alex Bouri. If you find yourself daydreaming constantly about being an entrepreneur, then it might be time to start you own business.

So, how do you know if you are ready to start your own business? Here are a few helpful tips to prove that your instincts are accurate.

1. You are always thinking about new business ideas.
  • If you find yourself thinking about new business ideas—especially one idea in particular—then that is a sure sign of entrepreneurial spirit. As an entrepreneur, it is always a good idea to be passionate about a certain subject, like how Alex Bouri is passionate about his cement business.
2. You are an independent person.
  • If you are an independent person and you have recently been thinking about being an entrepreneur, then now is the chance to become one. Independent thinkers and workers are excellent entrepreneurs, which gives you an advantage. As an independent person, you are a true problem solver, which will help you to begin your business right away.
3. Your motivation has been at its highest lately.
  • Have you noticed that you have an increase of motivation lately? If that is the case, then it might be your inner entrepreneur coming out. Motivation is a very important part of being an entrepreneur and can greatly assist you in your quest to start your own business.
4. You feel stuck in your current job.
  • If you feel stuck at your current position, it might be time to move on into your very own business. No one should have to dread going into work every day, so being your own boss might be the best idea out there
Remember, these are only four tips that you can use to determine whether or not being an entrepreneur is right for you. Never give up if you see potential.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

3 Failures to Avoid as a Manager

Is there anything more exciting or stressful than starting your own business? Being your own boss can be freeing, but if you aren't used to managing people (while also managing yourself) you can run into a lot of problems. Businessmen like Alexander Bouri didn't wake up knowing exactly how to run their businesses; they learned after years of hard work and by discovering their own strengths and failings. Everyone makes mistakes when they're managing their first group of employees, but certain mistakes can leader to bigger problems down the road. When you're welcoming your first group of employees to the company, avoid these common slip-ups:

Failing to see them as employees

There's nothing wrong with having a warm and encouraging relationship with your employees, but it shouldn't go much further than having a good work rapport. It can be easy to start to see your employees as friends. After you spend a lot of time together, you'll get to know each other better and, if you share common interests, you may find yourself talking more about personal things than work issues. Friendships with employees can easily go sour with a department head change or a problem at work, and other employees may start to suspect that you favor your friends more than them. Make sure that you see and treat your employees as employees, and save your friends for when you aren't on the clock.

Failing to give clear direction

If you're the kind of boss that expects your employees to handle problems with little to no input from you, you're going to run into a lot of problems. Many bosses expect their employees to somehow know exactly what their tasks should be and how they should be doing them, and then wonder why they constantly fail to meet expectations. Be clear about what you will expect on a daily basis, as well as what you're looking for in the long-term scheme of things.

Failing to handle problems

"You say that there's a problem happening? Didn't I hire you to be able to handle problems and do work?"

We've heard variations of that line uttered by mean bosses on TV and in movies, but a lot of managers subscribe to this toxic form of thinking. Some managers are more than happy to let their employees handle whatever problems come up, but sometimes your employees are going to need some help. You can give a little direction and help without having to fix everything yourself. Always be involved when there is a problem at work, and don't assign all responsibility to your co-workers.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Should We Call it the Third World?

For a while there, it seemed that the phrase "third world" had gone out of fashion. Many, many years after Alfred Sauvy first coined the term, people stopped saying it. And could be a good thing, because Sauvy wasn't referring to poor kids with distended bellies; he was talking about countries that weren't allied with either NATO or the Communist Bloc during the Cold War.

Crazy, huh?

It's true.

In recent years, people have started saying "developing nations," which isn't much nicer, but at least we weren't relegating the world's poor to their own world. The problem is that at some point after the "third world" thing came into being, we started ranking nations by their GNI, or Gross National Income. Ironic when you consider the fact that any kindergartener can tell you that you shouldn't judge people by the contents of their wallet.

Nevertheless, we needed a way to refer to nations who weren't industrialized – who lacked roads, Internet connections, iPods, running water, McDonald's, and all other trappings of the so-called western world – and we called them the third world, and they later became the developing world.

The latter is acceptable. The former? Maybe not. Executive and philanthropist Charlie Bouri and his company, Seament, have shipped a few million metric tons of (you guessed it) cement to the developing world, as a helping hand along the path to the modern ideal of prosperity. The company has worked extensively in what was termed the "third world" while they helped develop Nigeria in the 1970s, but they have always treated the people and the country with the utmost respect.

Why? Charles Bouri is a man who cares about people.

Unlike Bouri, some people in so-called "first world" countries are prone to making broad generalizations about those who are less fortunate. Sometimes, when people encounter something unpleasant (poverty or even just inconvenience), they may utter something like "It's like a third world country over here." This carries the implication that not only is the speaker prone to exaggeration; they're also too foolish to comprehend the harsh realities of life in a developing nation. Moreover, they don't care – they can be flippant.

Furthermore, the phrase "the third world" removes from the mind of the listener everything about a country that might be admired. It reduces the continent of Africa from a place with a proud indigenous history and a vibrant culture to the stock footage in a UNICEF commercial. A thing to be pitied.

So, should people use a term that has so many negative connotations? Maybe not, but perhaps it's the denigrating mentality itself and our misconceptions about developing nations that we really need to get away from. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Alexander Bouri Provides 4 Creative Ideas to Help Boost Your eCommerce Holiday Sales

As an online business owner, you're always looking for different ways to boost your sales. And with each changing season comes an opportunity to think creativity and get your products and services out there. If you're looking to find out how to make the most of this holiday season, business professional Alexander Bouri of Seament Holding provides four original ideas to help you out.

Get creative with advertising
Get festive with your advertising to appeal to your customers and be more competitive with other businesses. Make sure that your site is pleasing to the eye and reflects both your general branding and any seasonal promotions that you are having. In addition, you can invest in different advertising strategies (and not just online ones), including television and radio commercials, online advertising, social media marketing, and mobile advertising. If you're on a budget and don't want to overspend, determine which type of strategies will help you reach your audience the fastest.

Offer a free product
'Tis the season for giving, right? One fast, easy and highly effective way to capture the interest of customers is by giving away a free product, which you can offer by itself or with a purchase. This is especially beneficial if you have a seasonal product. Since everyone loves a good bargain, you can also run sales and promotions, and coupons are a tried and true way to do so. You can provide customers with online coupons via e-mail or through a promotion code that will save them a certain percentage or amount off their total.

Have a contest
You can really get your customers excited by having a contest, and social media is the perfect platform to do so on. Contests are simple and fun, and are a great way to collect contact information. After all, who wouldn't want to receive e-mails if they could get a free limited edition item or a fabulous prize out of the deal? By having a contest via social media, you can expand your fan base on these platforms, build customer relationships, compile a substantial contact list, increase brand awareness, and promote any products you're selling.

Reveal a new product
Customers are always on the lookout for new products, but never more so than during the holidays. With so many people trying to find unique gifts for family and friends, it's the perfect time to reveal any new and exciting items that your company may have lined up. You can display your new product on the home page of your website and e-mail the details to your current customer list. You can give it even more exposure by showcasing it on social media.  

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Story of Mark Bouri is the Story of Cement

Under his father's tutelage, Mark Bouri and his brothers have taken over leadership of world cement leader Seament. If you aren't in the cement industry, you may not know the names Mark Bouri or Seament – but to those who are in development or construction, Seament has become legendary. That's because it's the group that transformed how cement companies do business and first brought quality building materials en masse to the developing world.

In the 1970s, Nigeria was ready to spring from a third world country to a developing nation. Industrialization was the buzzword of the era. But while local business leaders and their foreign counterparts were all excited about Nigeria's potential, actual development was slow because of a painful practical consideration: Nigeria had a shortage of cement.

Most countries take cement for granted, but the reality is that not every nation has the natural resources necessary to create cement. That means that in many countries, cement is an import. And without this crucial import, almost any modern development will stall. Cement is needed for the foundations of houses and offices, for the walls of apartment buildings and tall skyscrapers, for bridges and highways, and (of course) for factories, power plants, airports and refineries. Nothing in the developed world happens without cement, the most versatile building material there is.

Mark Bouri's father founded Seament to combat that problem. Initially he began importing cement as best he could, and his superior salesmanship and dedication to quality meant early success. However, no salesman can succeed forever if he runs out of product. And Nigeria at the time had a shortage not because of lack of local initiative, but because of its ports.

Nigeria's ports were outdated. They could handle some seagoing vessels, but not the giant cement ships that are needed to carry cement in bulk. These ships were just too big for the ports to take. Seament decided to fix that. They built and launched their own floating loading platform—essentially a mini port unto itself—and anchored it offshore. This platform was able to accommodate the large cement ships and then bring the cement to shore. The innovation secured Seament's position as a world leader in cement.

Seament has now passed to Mark Bouri and his siblings. But the change in leadership only reflects an even greater commitment to the same values and innovation of their father. Mark Bouri has kept Seament as a well-positioned, highly successful international cement company.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Maurice Bouri and the Cement Industry

Depending on where you live in the world, you may not think of cement as a big deal. Today almost the entire globe has access to affordable cement, but for many nations, this wasn't always the case. Throughout the 20th century, development and growth was synonymous with the construction of large-scale infrastructure and manufacturing centers, all of which require huge amounts of building materials—typically cement. Housing and government or private office space also required cement. That meant that if a country had no access to affordable cement, they were unlikely to be able to keep up with industrialization, and would not succeed as a developing nation.

Enter Maurice Bouri and Seament.

Maurice Bouri is the son of Seament founder Alex Bouri, and manages Seament today. Seament is the company that revolutionized developing countries' ability to get the cement they needed for growth and industrialization. When Seament was founded in the 1970s, it started off serving local and international companies in Nigeria. These companies counted on Seament to get them the materials they needed to get their operations off the ground. Seament was able to succeed on a local scale but, Maurice Bouri's father knew that if they were going to grow internationally, they would need to do more. They began to look at the underlying problems in Nigeria's cement importing.

Cement was difficult to import at that time because it was most economical when shipped aboard giant cement ships. However, Nigeria's antiquated ports had no capacity to dock these giant behemoths. They were just too big. Seament could see that other developing nations had a similar problem, leading to bottlenecks in the supply chain. They knew that if they could solve this problem for one nation, they could solve it for many.

While most businessmen clamored to expand the ports, a proposal that could take decades to complete, Seament took action. The company came up with its own proprietary loading platform that floated free in the water offshore. These "floating ports" could anchor in deep water to facilitate the seagoing cement ships, and then transfer the cement to shore on smaller boats.

The invention was a success. Seament went on to lead a huge time of growth in the international cement industry, spurring development in nine different countries. Now under the leadership of Maurice Bouri and his siblings, it remains one of the most innovative and successful cement companies in existence.

Maurice Bouri carries on the family tradition of value, creativity, and good business. With his guidance, Seament is likely to continue as an industry leader for many years to come.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Story of Charles Bouri

Charles Bouri may not be a household name, but cement is. And in many countries today, cement would still be in short supply if it wasn't for the innovation of Charles Bouri's family company, Seament.

Seament was first started in Nigeria by Charles Bouri's father, an American University-educated businessman of Greek and Lebanese descent. Seament was founded when, during the 1970s, Nigeria was ready to industrialize, but had great difficulty getting the necessary raw materials for all of the construction that industrialization requires. Plants, factories, and infrastructure all required an abundant supply of cement, but Nigeria was sorely lacking.

Seament began as a local concern and started supplying much-needed cement to local businesses for construction. Although successful, the scale was still very small because Nigeria's ports were not able to handle large cement imports. Industrial cement ships were too large to dock at a typical Nigerian port, leading to a continued shortage. Seament noticed this problem in a number of developing nations at the time, and knew that in order to bolster both the cement industry and the local economies they would need to find a way around the bottleneck of the ports.

There was no way to easily expand or upgrade the ports themselves, and doing so would require years of government work. So Charles Bouri's father, the founder of Seament, came up with a workaround. Seament conceived, designed, and built the very first floating cement port. This "port," essentially a modified barge, floated off the main port and was able to dock with major seagoing cement vessels. The cement was then shuttled to the normal port using local vessels. This ingenious workaround got Seament a great deal of respect from its competitors, who soon began copying the technique. But by leading the way, Seament was able to revolutionize not only Nigeria's developing economy, but those of eight other struggling nations, as well.

Charles Bouri went on to follow in his father's footsteps, playing an active role in Seament and becoming general manager of offshoot Seabulk. Seament continues to carry on the same spirit of innovation today, and serves countries around the world by delivering quality, high-grade cement at affordable costs. The company makes it a point to help spur development and growth wherever it works, while putting substantial resources into protecting the environment.

The work of Seament and Charles Bouri is one of the major steps in bringing cement, a crucial building material, to the developing world.

Monday, March 31, 2014

4 Ways Startups can Save Cash

Now that tax season has rolled around, you're probably thinking about all your expenses as a small business owner. At the end of each year when you look at what you've spent, you realize just how quickly it all adds up. If you're self-employed or running a small business, saving every penny is important. Here is how Alex F. Bouri did it when he started Seament.

Sharing an Office
Not everyone has the luxury of being able to have a home office. Sometimes the business is too large for a home office, but too small for an office building. If this is the case for you, consider coworking, or sharing an office with another small (but not small enough) business. You can split rent costs and even find other businesses that would be useful to partner up with. It's refreshing to have another team to bounce ideas around with, plus, you're saving money. Sharedesk is a great resource for finding someone to share office space with.

Social Media Marketing
Having an advertising team is a big cost, but as a startup, it's important to generate some branding. Believe it or not, a lot of today's businesses are having success just with social media. Create a Facebook, a Twitter, and perhaps even a YouTube account, and make sure they're all branded with logos and tones. Host contests to get people to like your page, and have friends, loved ones, and other local businesses spread the word.

Be Loyal
Many vendors are pleased to make relationships with their clients. If you show your vendor that you are a loyal customer, they might just cut you a deal – especially if you show them that you're in it for the long-term. Be sure to discuss your business goals with your vendor and let them know which products do well for you. Order in advance and always pay on time. You might be rewarded in the long run.

Bargain Shop
For small things that are necessary to your company, like paper, labels, and even transportation, be sure to bargain shop. Never buy anything without being certain that you're getting the best deal. As we said before, you don't realize it at the time, but small things add up over the course of the year!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

5 Tips for Breaking Into an International Market

Today's technology gives us access to so many vehicles for breaking into markets abroad. Having the tools to go global with your company, however, doesn't mean that you have the skills to do so. Since international firms tend to make bigger profits, grow more quickly, and are less likely to go out of business, it's easy to see why you'd be eager to break into a new market. Just look at what happened when Alex F Bouri took his company, Seament, international: he changed the cement industry forever.

So, yes, breaking into a new market is advisable. But these tips from Alex Bouri will help you to do so more wisely, and hopefully more successfully.

Look Beyond the Obvious Cities
You'd be surprised to learn that some second-tier cities are easier to make revenue in, due to being less competitive, than larger, more "obvious" cities. For example, in India, better-known cities such as Bangalore are already saturated with certain industries, but smaller cities like Ahmedabad and Nagpur could make for a great place for your product. Plus, they also have highly skilled and eager talent to choose from.

Seek Advice
You're not alone in your exporting endeavors. In fact, there are plenty of resources for you to access before taking the first big step, such as government-run trade and investment bureaus. You could also contact other non-competitors who have already paved the way in your destination locations to ask for advice.

Crunch the numbers to figure out if the location(s) you've chosen to expand to have a market for your products and whether your company will be able to compete with local firms when it gets established. If you can safely say "yes" to both of those questions, then you need to delve further into your research, such as figuring out how you will advertise, what taxes are like, and how to finance a property.

Be Flexible
In your new location, how quickly and easy will you be able to upsize or downsize? You never know what your business's progress is going to be like, so no matter what comes your way, you need to be ablet o sustain it. If you need to hire 50 more employees on the spot, will your premises support that? Can you bring on remote employees? Flexibility is invaluable in a situation like this.

Learn the Culture
When the time comes that you want to start marketing, making partners, et cetera, it's important to know the etiquette in order to avoid rubbing anyone the wrong way. Learn the "rules," whether it's receiving a business card with both hands or removing your shoes indoors, in order to avoid making any enemies or giving your company a bad reputation.

Monday, March 3, 2014

How to Boost Employee Productivity

With the current status of the economy many business owners think that simply having a job and getting a paycheck should motivate employees to work hard.  Unfortunately, this is not the case, and companies, both big and small, have to motivate their employees to be productive via rewarding them.  Mark Bouri, owner of the global company Seament, implements some of the below tips into his day-to-day operations so his staff is always producing.

§  Don’t Be a Micro Manager – When employees are asked what one of their biggest pet peeves are – they’re likely to say that it’s having a manager that micromanages everything they do.  It’s very important to find the balance between managing your team but not breathing down their necks and watching their every move.  While some employees need a lot of supervision and need to be given direction and assistance, others are able to hit the ground running.  It’s important to keep in mind that micro management doesn’t allow employees to think for themselves, so in the long run it can paralyze your company.
§  Set Realistic Goals and Celebrate – A great way to naturally motivate your staff is to set realistic goals for them to work towards. Once the goal is met celebrate or reward your employees.  You can make the reward monetary or treat them to a conference that the company will pay for.  Rewarding your employees for the hard work they put in makes them want to continue to work hard because they feel appreciated.  Keeping your employees happy makes them feel like their effort is being recognized and will prevent them from not putting their best effort forward every day.
§  Make Your Employees Accountable - To keep your staff working meticulously they need to be aware that they are accountable for their actions and decisions. They will also be more likely to not make rash decisions and not take advantage of their position because they know that you’re supporting them and depending on them to do their job the correct way.

Mark Bouri, owner of Seament, has learned that when you put trust in your employees and reward them when they work hard, productivity will soar. Keeping your employees motivated and appreciated are the secrets to boosting your company’s productivity. Staff members admit that when they’re recognized, they don’t want to disappoint their bosses.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How to Make Your Company Stand Out in 2014

A desire to see their company succeed is something that drives almost all members of the business community. Whether the company is a large corporation or is family-owned, like the one Maurice Bouri works for, the formula is simple: customers = money. That being said, consumers are constantly exposed to new products and services on a daily basis. In order to stay competitive, it is important that companies learn how to make themselves stand out in 2014 and beyond.

Find or Create a Niche

In order to attract customers, you need to understand where they are and what they want. Prior to launching your company, take some time to scout out your potential competition. Not only will this give you an understanding of what you are going to face when you open, but you may also learn what the competition doesn’t have. If what they don’t offer is something you can provide, jump on it -- ensure that everyone knows through your advertising that you are able to fulfill that need.

Many industries are tough to break into; however, if you create a unique approach or niche for your company, then you may find it easier to succeed. For instance, if you have many talents that can easily be united into a single business, combine them. This way, you can offer one stop shopping to your customers. People are constantly moving, so the more they can get done with one visit the easier it is on them.

Create and Maintain an Online Presence

We are officially deep into the digital age. Even if you choose not to embrace much technology in your personal life, it is important that you do so professionally. The majority of society interacts with technology, either through their phone or online, at least once a day. Make sure they know where to find you when they need you.

After creating your website, consider creating a blog or allowing one of your employees to create and maintain one for you, as Maurice Bouri does for his company. Become actively involved in social media as a way to stay on top of trends and get a jumpstart on what your potential customers are looking for. Make sure to keep your online presence fresh so that current clients as well as potential ones will stay interested.

Helping your business stand out from its competitors is going to take time. Don’t become entrenched in one stale strategy and forget about new ideas and growth! Ensure that your potential clients know what separates you from your competitors and focus on those strengths.