Paving the Way for Good Roads

PollQuestion

We’ve got a new poll question (top right) asking about a strategy to pay for long-term infrastructure funding. The current House Republican plan calls for a modest gasoline tax increase and higher cigarette taxes (that would go toward Medicaid spending, with sales tax funds currently used in that area shifting to transportation).

More details on the legislation: HB 1001

The most recent poll asked for your top legislative priority. Civil rights expansion (36%) topped the list, followed by increased transportation funding (28%) and education testing reform (16%).

Job Hopping on the Upswing

37193874Job hopping is increasing among employees seeking opportunities to expand their knowledge, develop their talents, increase their network and boost their salary.

Currently, half of U.S. employees are watching the job market or actively looking for a job, based on findings from a recent Gallup Workforce Panel study. This is a major problem for employers, as workers job hopping from one organization to the next can create considerable costs.

To learn more about what drives job-hopping, Gallup asked U.S. workers who were considering a job change or who had recently switched employers to indicate how important particular factors were when deciding to take a job with a different company. The top-ranked reason was “it allows me to do what I do best,” followed by “it significantly increases my income.”

What can you do to keep your employees loyal? First, don’t take your long-term employees for granted. Gallup’s findings reveal that longer-term employees do not feel as supported as employees who are new to a company. Find ways to create learning opportunities and provide feedback to retain and engage top-level employees throughout their time at the organization. In regard to newer employees, help them understand the fundamentals of their role immediately and look for ways to help them apply their strengths early in their careers.

Mobile Power to Continue in New Year

Three Businesswomen Texting

The number of U.S. consumers using their phones to pay for goods and services at the point of sale will continue to climb steadily, with 2016 being a year of significant growth for the technology. According to the latest proximity mobile payments forecast from eMarketer, the total value of mobile payment transactions in the U.S. will grow 210% in 2016.

Specifically, eMarketer defines proximity mobile payments as point-of-sale transactions that use mobile phones as a payment method, via tapping, waving and similar functionality.

“Several factors will drive substantial mobile payments growth in the U.S. Mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay will become a standard feature on new smartphones,” said eMarketer analyst Bryan Yeager. “Also, more merchants will adopt point-of-sale systems that can accept mobile payments, and incentives like promotions and loyalty programs will be integrated to attract new users.”

Also driving growth are changes in the types of purchases made using mobile payments. eMarketer expects that consumers will move beyond primarily buying low-priced goods, below $20, with mobile payments to a wider array of price points. Medium-priced purchases, ranging from $20 to $100, will comprise 45.5% of all mobile payments in 2015, growing to 63.9% by 2018.

Jobs Numbers You Need to Know

rThe National Conference of State Legislatures breaks down some recent job statistics and trends. A few of the numbers:

  • 5 million new workers in health care from 1997 to 2012
  • 77.5% — growth in the mining industry in that same time period
  • 157 million – number of people 16 and over in the nation’s labor force in June 2015
  • 15 million – number of female workers 16 and over in service occupations in 2013 male workers numbered 11.6 million
  • 86.1 – percentage of full-time, year-round workers ages 18 to 64 with health insurance during all or part of 2013
  • 76.4 – percentage of workers who drove alone to work in 2013
  • 25.8 – average time in minutes it took workers to commute to their jobs in 2013
  • 4.4 – percentage who worked from home in 2013

Where Americans are Headed on Vacation This Fall

9809397Travel Leaders Group provides frequent updates on current trends through comprehensive surveys of its travel agents.

A few findings from the most recent outreach:

  • New York City is the most popular domestic destination for the remainder of 2015
  • Caribbean cruises lead the way internationally
  • For clients age 30 and under, the top reasons/destinations for travel are honeymoons, Caribbean and Mexico

Additional details from the survey:

“Based on actual bookings, New York made a remarkable leap over perennial top destinations like Las Vegas and Orlando. It is an incredibly vibrant, world-class city for leisure and business travelers alike. From the fall right through the holidays, it’s nothing short of spectacular,” states Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben. “In addition, the data we have collected indicates travel will continue to be strong for the remainder of the year, which is leading to incredible optimism among our travel agent specialists.”

Following New York, the top domestic destinations being booked were Orlando, Maui, Las Vegas, Alaska cruises (maybe some of these are for 2016 travel), Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Internationally, following cruises are Cancun, London, European cruise, Rome, Paris, Mediterranean cruise, Dominican Republic, Florence and/or Tuscany (Italy) and Montego Bay (Jamaica).

Fewer Are Taking the Start-Up Route

Lower unemployment is just one of the factors a declining number of Americans are looking at starting their own businesses.

In the first half of 2015, an average of 5.1% of job seekers decided to begin a new business, according to global outplacement and coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

CEO John A. Challenger notes, “While many Americans love the idea of being their own boss, we consistently find that 95% of those who are in-between jobs do not take that route. Most don’t even consider it to be a viable option and those who do contemplate entrepreneurship often conclude that the risks are too numerous and significant to pursue.”

The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that nearly 5.2 million Americans were hired in June 2015. Furthermore, there were still more than 5.2 million unfilled job openings at the end of the month.

But it takes more than just industry knowledge to pursue entrepreneurship. Challenger offers some of the other necessities required for those considering a start-up venture.

A Plan
Having a plan can help the would-be entrepreneur map out his or her vision. It does not have to be the 50- to 70-page formal plan taught in MBA programs. It can just be a few pages. Though something more detailed and formal might be required when it comes time to seek funding from banks or investors. The key benefit of the plan is that helps to focus one’s efforts.

A survey of more than 800 people in the process of starting businesses by the University of Michigan found those who wrote a plan were two and a half times more likely to actually go into business.

Savings
It takes money to make money, as they say. Not only is there the initial investment associated with starting a business, whether it is buying computers or business cards, but the fact is that it could take several months before the new business makes any money.
Unless one is trying to get a business up and running while holding down another full-time or part-time job, which is an entirely different challenge altogether, substantial savings are absolutely necessary to make up for the loss of income that occurs during the initial phases of the start-up.

Time
The reason it would be challenging to start a business while holding down a traditional job is that most new businesses require a substantial amount of time to get up and running. Entrepreneurs can expect to log 60 to 80 hours a week in the first two years.

Self-Discipline
The biggest challenge for entrepreneurs coming from a traditional workplace may be the lack of a manager giving you tasks and deadlines. Especially for those working from home, there are a lot of distractions that can pull your attention away from the task at hand. Some would say that telecommuters face the same challenge. However, they are still accountable to a supervisor, so there is more motivation to stay focused on work.
Until a new entrepreneur has that first customer, who then provides the motivation to set and meet deadlines, the only person an entrepreneur must answer to is himself. So, are you going to do the work necessary to find that first customer or fix that leaky faucet? If the faucet takes precedence, you may need to rethink entrepreneurship.

Strong Sales Skills
Regardless of the primary skills you are ultimately plan to provide through your new venture, whether it’s financial planning consulting or cupcakes, the first order of business is to get customers. In order to do that, you need to be a salesperson. As an entrepreneur, you should expect to spend 75% or more of your time on sales as the business is getting off the ground.

If you do not feel comfortable selling, your business is probably doomed before it even begins. No business can succeed without sales. A strong sales commitment is necessary, especially in the first 12 to 24 months.

Poll Results: Fair Inquiry Finds Food to be Favorite

23064608The recently-concluded Indiana State Fair once again attracted more than 900,000 visitors. Based on the results of our poll asking people to identify their favorite part of the traditional event, you might call it another deep-fried success.

Nearly half (46%) chose food as the top attraction. Yes, there are many delectable options, including a few healthy choices along the way.

Other answers included: exhibits (17%), animal competitions (13%) and musical entertainment (8%). In the “other” category, comments ranged from people watching and rides to “I don’t like the fair.”

We turn back to traditional business with the current question (top right), asking about your leading business concern as we enter the final four months of 2015.

Yoder: From Software to Students

yoder picMax Yoder and Lesson.ly are rightfully getting a lot of attention (see our BizVoice magazine story). But the budding entrepreneurial star has a second organization he is leading.

Here’s his explanation of The First Fund and what it means:

“We have a ton of work to do with The First Fund, and it is very much an experiment. The experiment revolves around the fact that there are these awesome first-grade teachers out there who have direct relationships with their kids and also direct relationships with the parents. Often those parents don’t come from the financial wherewithal they would like.

“We work with those teachers to identify those kids and parents. We set up a 529 (education savings account) plan for their children and then help the parents add money to those accounts.”

Yoder outlines the principles of mentorship, financial planning and scholarship that are so critical. Then, in a matter of 30 seconds, the 27-year-old showcases both his sense of humor and his passion for others.

“I met a bunch of first-grade kids during a failed relationship to a first-grade teacher. Now I’m madly in love with a second-grade teacher; I’ve upgraded. It’s the kids — the hope on their faces.”

Yoder goes on to talk about the recent serious heart attack and challenging recovery of his friend John (who helped start The First Fund).

“The First Fund has never been more important to me, to make that work. John’s going to pull through, and we’re going to make sure that The First Fund is in the best shape it can be.”

Yoder concludes by describing the difference between his growing software training firm and his non-profit.

“Lesson.ly is this big, high-growth engine. Bigger is better in our world. In The First Fund world, I have to put on a very different hat. It’s not let’s see how fast we can give scholarships to as many kids as possible. It’s let’s see how we can maximize the scholars we already have — making sure we can really, really drive value for the people who are here.”

Good luck, Max. And kudos for the work you are doing.

Sen. Donnelly: “Roads Aren’t Republican or Democrat”

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In a visit with the Indiana Chamber’s Congressional Affairs Policy Committee today, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) said he believes a new long-term highway infrastructure bill should be enacted yet this year.

Citing “desperate, crying” infrastructure needs, the senator said two imperatives are to “make sure we (Indiana) get our share” and “make sure we get it funded. We’re talking about  a six-year deal. I’ll take a five-year deal (if need be).”

Indiana is currently receiving 95 cents back on each tax dollar that it sends to Washington. In recent discussions, Donnelly voted no on a proposal that would have included Indiana’s share dropping to between 90 cents and 92 cents on the dollar. The goal, he says, is for no state to be funded at a lower percentage level than in the last long-term deal.

Transportation funding has been dependent on a series of short-term extensions that have not provided the resources needed for states to act with any certainty. Donnelly cited several instances of the damaging impact in Indiana, including the current closure of Interstate 65 near Lafayette due to bridge instability.

“Roads aren’t Republican or Democrat; they’re roads,” he explains. “There’s no way to do this without investment. I’m for seven different ways to fund this thing. Just pick one (or more). I just want to build roads.”

Donnelly also discussed potential changes to the Affordable Care Act (including his support for elimination of the medical device tax), the consequences of Washington legislating through Executive Orders, the debt limit, immigration, Iran, global environmental concerns and more.

Congress is scheduled to resume its work in Washington after Labor Day. Indiana Chamber members will be traveling to Washington on September 16-17 for the annual D.C. Fly-in. You can still register to participate.

Plastic Paving in Our Future?

9809397We’ve got an infrastructure funding problem in our state and country. This likely isn’t one of the solutions currently being considered. But then think of all the technological advances we enjoy today that were once just a dream.

Entrepreneur.com has the story:

If you drive a car, then you’ve invariably experienced the insanity and frustration that potholes can cause. Roads made of asphalt aren’t perfect. They crack and crumble. The longer they go without repairs the more damage they inflict on our cars (and insurance policies).

One construction company in the Netherlands thinks it has the solution: roads made of recycled plastic from the ocean. Scientists at construction firm VolkerWessels are collaborating with the city of Rotterdam in Holland to build prototypes of these pre-frabricated strips of road called PlasticRoad.

The benefits of pre-fab roads made of recycled plastic, as VolkerWessels sees them:

  • Built in a fraction of the construction time (weeks, not months)
  • Virtually maintenance free
  • Can withstand greater extremes in temperature (-40 degrees F to nearly 180 degree F)
  • They have three times the expected lifespan of traditional asphalt
  • Have a lightweight design, meaning roadways could more easily be moved or adjusted

PlasticRoad would also have a hollow space that can be used for cables, pipes and rainwater, VolkerWessels says. Check it out

The next step in the prototype phase is to test it in a laboratory to make sure it’s safe in wet and slippery conditions, VolkerWessels says. If all goes well, the company hopes to lay the first fully recycled roadway sometime within three years, Rolf Mars, the director of VolkerWessels’ roads subdivision, KWS Infra, said in a recent interview.

One can only imagine how much more quiet rubber tires on plastic roads would be than on asphalt. And, sayonara potholes. Good riddance.