Top Credible Resources Online for Money and Finance

The world of finance is a dynamic ecological system. The investor, money manager and equities analyst must have a grasp of world current events, an understanding of economics, discerning senses of smell and sight, incisive research and interrogation abilities, abject honesty and a level head to blend and separate fact from fiction. This a very tall order and that is why many financial advisors specialize in one area like the banking, technology, bond or commodities markets and currency sectors.

So, what does the average investor do when unlike the experts has a day job, but wants to intelligently invest their money. The uninformed investor is a fool. If you do not have time to know the what, where, why and how of the money you invest, you would be well advised to take your hard earned money and place it on the nose of the dark horse running in the eighth race at Aqueduct.

I guarantee you will be just as likely to lose all your money in the financial markets as you are at the race track. You will also be the loudest and most pathetic loser to scream foul to Elliot Spitzer, or his counter part somewhere.

The best rule of thumb is that money seeks safe harbors. Money is the life cell in the Petrie dish. If the cell sees an invading bacterium that is threatening, it will react. The cells of life, and its antibodies, the rules of the game, work in harmony with the sole purpose of survival. Money is the energy of the cell.

In the world of money, the big players are few and the smaller players are easily trampled in the flight to safe positions. In recent history it is always good to remember that before the U.S.S.R. fell, the money of the soviet republic was already safely tucked away in London, New York, Paris and Zurich accounts accumulating interest before any public ballyhoo of the momentous event was announced.

It should also be reassuring to you that despite what some blogger or servant of divine messages may tell you, in the world of money and finance there is not going to be an Armageddon or repeat of the crash of 1929. Not even a handful of international maniacal terrorists could disrupt in any meaningful way the financial well being of the hub of international finance in attacking New York City in 2001. Today, security and back up systems around the world will not allow any significant disruption of the United States or anywhere else.

So, if you are not already intimidated by the concept of investing and wish to explore the possibilities of growing your money at a healthy rate of better than a pass book account rate of three to five per cent per year, this list of information services will increase your chances of success. This is not meant as a substitute for hiring an estate planner or stock advisor broker, but as a compliment so that you as an investor have the ability to ask the question and the knowledge to know if the answer you receive is adequate.

Additionally, do not feel that all of your worries are dispensed if you should decide to invest in mutual funds or baskets of sector stocks because the smart investor always wants to pay attention to the managers’ savvy and the fees and recurring expenses they charge, as well as the viability of the members of the basket.

This is not a definite list of resources, but a beginning point. The first thing you should invest in is a good dictionary of finance. I suggest the latest edition of Webster’s New World Finance and Investment Dictionary and Barron’s Dictionary of Business Terms, both cost around $10 on Amazon.

International Herald Tribune: http://www.iht.com

The International Herald Tribune emanates from Paris, Francis. The news service has international news events effecting economic markets including, equities, currency and commodities. The business section has topical articles on all phases of business on a world wide basis, seven days per week.

Scotsman: http://www.scotsman.com

The Scotsman web site has good information on international banking and breaking news about events in the world wide financial markets. The information is generally credible and due to the difference in time zones the alert and updates come in before U.S. commercial news services. The Scotsman has good researchers and does not sanitize stories.

Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com

The breadth of Bloomberg’s news service and financial reports of international markets and the world wide economy is well laid out on its web site. If you have inquiries into the various currencies or markets, Bloomberg has an easily navigable web site. There is also a good reference section.

Financial Times: http://www.ft.com/home/us

Financial Times offers a good view of the world economic issues. The Financial Times provides a United States version of its London-based publication. The articles are informative and their news is up to the minute in matters of finance and equity markets. They feature interesting articles on the sometimes omitted details of current conflicts and transactions around the globe.

The Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com

The Wall Street Journal has good articles on the world wide markets. The articles are generally very informative. Their on-line full service requires a subscription fee. There is public access to the site and some articles are free. Most of these articles end up being quoted in popular financial reporting services or on cable news outlets in morning programming segments.

Seeking Alpha: http://seekingalpha.com.

This financial news information site is read by money managers and experts every day. I am particularly impressed with this news provider because they provide articles from all of the top financial news advisory services. The story I was looking for on the treasury bond was originally written for the Wall Street Journal. It was easily discovered by typing in the search term,bond inquiry,and the article, UBS, Credit Suisse Under SEC Investigation for Bonds Trading Irregularities took about two seconds.

The owner of the site is David Jackson, a former technology research analyst with Morgan Stanley in New York. The on-line information site is organized exceptionally well in part because the platform is geared for financial information and data. Dion Almaer is the site’s infrastructure brains. Articles from more than 200 contributors are tagged, edited for clarity and categorized for Seeking Alpha’s dissemination.

Morningstar: http://www.morningstar.com

Morningstar provides general investing advice, but it excels at providing assessments of Mutual Funds. Morningstar breaks down the best funds and provides detailed information about the money managers, fees, loads and a variety of useful information for anyone considering entrance into the mutual fund arena. It is a must read before deciding on any specific mutual fund plan.

MSN Money Central: http://moneycentral.msn.com

Money Central is run by Microsoft, but the articles are from all sorts of news services. The web site allows you to personalize your favorite equities and other investments. It has some good business stories about investing, banking, insurance and estate planning issues. The site also provides the latest news about real estate mortgages and critiques about mortgage lending services. It is an informative site.

CNBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN:

All of these financial web sites are compliments to the existing cable television network. All of these network programs provide investor disclaimers regarding their advice.

Some of the financial forecasters and analysts have years in the field not as news commentator, but as stock investors or financial advisors for brokerage houses or exchanges. Do not be fooled by their shenanigans and stage presence. They are seasoned veterans. A prime example is Jim Cramer. He is entertaining, but the gentleman made a whole lot of money in the markets and a whole load of money for other people. In this category I leave it up to the individual to decide whom they like getting information. The primary wire services these cable outlets rely on are Associated Press, UPI and Reuters.

The Motley Fool: http://www.fool.com

The Motley Fool is nobodys’ fool. This site has some of the more interesting stories about emerging markets, creation of wealth and down to earth advice about your finances. A recent article, Unbelievable Growth Is Just the Beginning, is a great assessment of the new emerging middle class in heretofore impoverished countries. Their in depth data of emerging markets is quite good. They have recently launched a service called the Motley Fool Global Gains that promises to provide first rate information on the emerging markets investment potential.

In summary, don’t let your lack of a formal education get in the way of making money. Some people just have an uncanny knack for investing. Play some no cost investing games. Try making some fantasy stock and investments picks and see how you do. If you have an interest in tangible items like metals, oranges, sugar, cattle, hogs and wheat, there is always the commodities exchange which is an article in and of itself.

If you have a flare for this type of investing and you have a stomach lined in steel there are great opportunities for this area. Some of the best investors I have met in this area are farmers who seem to instinctively play the market exceptionally well. You can also play the currencies, but again this area requires skill and nerves of steel.

What is the Solution to Finance Inventory for Canadian Business?

Canadian business owners and finance mangers are continually challenged to finance inventory as a component of their overall business financing and cash flow needs. There are solutions to this challenge and we’ll discuss and review some critical factors around inventory finance in Canada.

Inventory financing is the collateralizing of your inventory for financing purposes .Where it gets trick is that it has to work for all parties, yourself, and the lender, when you in fact have existing financing arrangements in place re your overall business finance strategy.

Working capital in Canada generally consists of receivables and inventory – if your sales are growing , and you are collecting receivables and turning over inventory you have a continuous need for more working capital as those two ‘ current assets ‘ grow .

The key to facilitating a solid inventory financing, or purchase order financing in Canada is to help your lender get the feeling they will never have to realize on that inventory to collect their loan or financing proceeds! You want to be able to demonstrate that your inventory is marketable, and that you have the ability to control and count the inventory. A perpetual inventory accounting systems helps a lot in that process – so investigate that with your accountant.

Similar to inventory financing a purchase order financing solution is very complimentary in nature. It is a case of your firm having product to ship but are in effect lacking in your ability to replenish inventory and fulfill orders and contracts.

When clients ask us what can go wrong in an inventory financing scenario we often simply state that you must be in a position to be able to turn inventory over and demonstrate your products are marketable in a worst case scenario .

Inventory and purchase order financing in Canada is specialized – seek out the services of a trusted, credible, and experienced business financing advisor who will be in a position to present your overall financial situation and prospects in the best light – this will include an overview of your current financial position, most importantly also your prospects, and the ability to define a facility based on the overall market value of your particular inventory.

We talked earlier about the challenge of managing through an inventory financing facility based on your current borrowing arrangements. In a perfect world (we know it’s not a perfect world!) you secure both inventory and A/R financing via a chartered bank. The alternative to this is an asset based lending facility, or what is known as an ABL line of credit. This facility margins inventory and receivables to the maximum value, which great increases your ability to draw down on cash flow needs.

In a working capital or asset based line of credit situation you will usually have a larger drawdown on receivable, but a proper inventory financing scenario can easily secure 60-80% of your overall inventory values – that is a lot of additional cash flow if you need to draw down on it.

The key benefits of a properly structured inventory financing facility are that it supplements your overall working capital needs. The facility should revolve, and you should only be paying for what you use. You should also have defined borrowing limits on inventory, and the ability to repay, or draw more financing at your option.

Your best inventory financing ability will ultimately come from your ability, as we said, for you to demonstrate proper accounting and reporting of inventory, as well as information on customer prospects, contracts, etc.

If you structure a proper inventory finance facility you will have access to significantly more working capital , inventory will easily be replenish able, and you should have additional purchasing power based on increased access to cash . Pricing on inventory and purchase order financing varies with the size of the facility, lenders interpretation of the marketability of your product, and your ability to turnover inventory at equal to or better than industry standards based on your own business model.

A proper inventory finance application should be no different that any other type of financing you apply for, so don’t view it as a mysterious type of business financing. Focus on demonstrating clearly how inventory financing will grow your sales and profits, that’s a win win situation for you and your inventory lender.

Finding Small Business Clients for Very Targeted Marketing

Creating a strong marketing plan is just Step One of many for small business owners in finding prospective clients. Some trying to build their businesses from the ground, up build very targeted marketing plans, but then are not sure where to find those that will be most in need of the services or products they provide; so they either misdirect their hard work by networking with the wrong prospects, or get frustrated and stop focusing on marketing altogether.

Any small business owner that knows the benefits of the products or services he/she is offering inside and out and has been able to construct marketing materials and a message that reflect this unique offering has already completed one of the hardest parts of filling up the sales funnel with new prospects. The next step in finding prospective clients is locating the places where targeted marketing efforts will be most effective.

The following are some ways for small business owners to find potential clients that will be most likely to want, need and be able to afford services or products being offered.

Advertising lists provide easy access to future customers:

Advertising lists are good, inexpensive ways to find concentrated groups of possible customers. Compiler companies like Zap Data (http://www.zapdata.com/) and InfoUSA provide lists to small business owners of clients to help streamline the process of customer acquisition. Other similar services can usually be found through local business groups as well as in newspapers or journals. These types of list services have search features that can help narrow down the field of small business clients to only those that would fit a very specific profile, eliminating the need to question, “Does this person care what I have to offer?”

Finding out where great clients hang out and being there is a great networking opportunity:

Creating a profile of the “ideal” client and doing a little research can produce important information about where ideal clients regularly go. It is in these places that targeted marketing efforts will be most successful. For example, a small business owner selling a product or service that a lot of attorneys use can look around the community for business groups to which attorneys belong and get involved. They should go to meetings and conferences when appropriate and sign up for trade shows, volunteer to be panelists at events or write articles for industry publications. This type of networking can provide a slew of appropriate, highly-relevant places for small business owners to get to know potential clients personally, showcase their products and expertise and be part of a well-rounded marketing plan.

Less is always more:

Once a small business owner unlocks the many doors that lead to where clients are, they need to be gentle and smart about finding prospective clients. No one should join more than a few networking organizations or spam mailing lists with e-mails or direct mail, even if they represent very targeted efforts. Marketing is easy to overdo. Above all, it is an evolutionary process that takes time to develop and get right, so patience is necessary. Small business owners should build efforts slowly over a few months and continue to save time for actually focusing on providing the services and products that will best fulfill the needs of their clients.

Finding prospective clients is obviously critical to building a solid business foundation. Getting active and out there in the appropriate marketplace, networking in diverse environments that will be receptive to the specific company’s mission is a huge part of targeted marketing that can produce great referrals and build a company’s roster exponentially.

How to Finance Your Franchise Investment

You have made the decision to purchase a new or existing franchise then quickly realize that basic question – How do you finance your franchise investment.

Money or funding as quickly becomes a top priority and your ability to successfully finance your investment in your new business will ultimately play a large part in your success or failure in your new role as a Canadian entrepreneur.

For non- financial people, those not trained or comfortable in finance that challenge suddenly looms large – at the same time you have read in the papers that business financing continues to be difficult as Canada comes out of the global financial meltdown of 2008-2009.

So how can you be successful then and finance your franchise investment in a manner that allows you to take advantage of your independent business opportunity. The reality is as follows – franchise financing is available in Canada today – it is some what of a custom made financing, and the three largest assets you can bring to the table to succeed are the ability to seek out a trusted and experienced franchise financing advisor, as well as your own business and credit experience, coupled with a relatively reasonable down payment.

The true secret to your overall franchise financing success is the ability to put together a solid, slick proposal that at a high level demonstrates your ability to run the business, the potential financial success of the business, and then presenting that information to sources of franchise financing in Canada.

A key ingredient in all of your planning should be a carefully tailored business plan that highlights the basics we have discussed – this would include a summary of your business experience (and why you will make the business successful), some key financial such as, at least, your sales and profit projections for one to perhaps 3 years. And equally as important in this data is carefull documentation of your costs and expenses.

So let’s assume you have that completed – you now have to present it to a franchise financing and funding source, and ensure you have properly describe the amount of equity of personal funds you will put into the business, as well as the debt component, or total borrowed funds. The magic relationship of the right amount of debt and equity in your business will leave you, as the financial textbooks describe, as ‘properly leveraged’. By that we mean simply that it is probably very wrong to purchase your business with all cash, and equally or moreso as wrong to assume you can or will borrow all the funds needed. Either of those strategies is not recommended!

How are franchises funded in Canada asking our clients? In our experience they are financed mostly by the government sponsored Small Business Loan. In addition that is supplemented by equipment financing where applicable, as well as your own personal investment in the business. Two other sources of financing sometimes come into play; they are a vendor take back on part of the financing, either by the franchisor or the franchisee you might be buying an existing franchise from. Also available in certain cases is the ability to negotiate a cash working capital term loan from the one institution we are aware of that provides that type of financing.

The proper mix of all of the above components of franchise financing will should in fact allow you to successful complete your acquisition. Things not seeming to work for franchises? Grab a Lincoln 210 MP welder and get to work!

Business Incubators Impart Success Potential to New Businesses

Business incubators help such entrepreneurs with inputs that see them through various stages to a successful business enterprise. Built-up space, expensive equipment, funding facilitation and marketing contacts are examples of inputs typically provided by business incubators. They might also relieve entrepreneurs of routine tasks such as accounting and secretarial work.

Significance of Business Incubation

Business incubation is a more efficient alternative to the earlier scenario of entrepreneurs starting their ventures in a basement or garage, and struggling through a learning process to finally establish a successful business. Incubators set up by experienced and successful businesspersons speed up the learning process of novice entrepreneurs, and might also actively help the ventures with the critical funding and marketing activities. This modern alternative could have helped many of the entrepreneurs who failed under the earlier scenario.

Whereas small business support agencies such as SBA of the U.S. are obliged to help all proposals that come to them, business incubators are more selective. They select only startup proposals that have a good chance of succeeding, and then extend much more support to develop these into a successful enterprise than SBA could. In addition to active funding and marketing help, the incubators also mentor the businesspersons through the business operations.

 The businesses that graduate through the incubation process will typically be able to stand on their own once they leave the incubator. They would have a business that is operating successfully, and the mentoring and business development processes would have imparted essential business skills to the businesspersons. Studies have found that nearly 90 percent of such businesses survive for the long term, as compared to less than 10% of all small business startups.

Business incubation can help with economic development of specific regions, creating jobs, developing an entrepreneurial climate, empowerment of women and minorities, and even energizing local communities.

Support Provided by Business Incubators

The list below will give an idea of the wide range of services that business incubators provide. Not all incubators provide all these services, and some of them might restrict their support to businesses in specific areas.

Help is typically provided in the following areas:

  • Physical facilities such as office space, equipment and connectivity
  • Venture funding for innovative and promising businesses
  • Commercialization of new technology
  • Loans from banks and guarantees for such loans
  • Organizing an advisory team
  • Assembling a management team with required skills
  • Contacts and networking for marketing and other purposes
  • Developing skills in gap areas e.g. marketing, financial management
  • Business services such as accounting and secretarial
  • Help with regulatory compliance, intellectual property protection

Microsoft Innovation Centers, for example, provide access to business and technology training, free development software, computer labs and investor networking. These centers operate in many countries across the world.

The key point to notice is that the typical businessperson starting a new business is not likely to be well-versed in many of these areas. Business incubation thus helps speed up their learning process.

Many incubators provide support for businesses operating from homes or in remote areas. For example, businesses in remote areas are helped through counseling and other help delivered over the Internet and phone. Incubators might also focus on specific sectors, such as computer hardware, life sciences, nanotechnology and software development.

The incubation period typically differs from industry to industry. Industries that need long research-to-market times might remain under incubation for much longer that those who can provide a product or service almost immediately.

How Incubators Make their Money

Governments might extend funding assistance in the form of grants to business incubator companies. The companies will also typically charge for business services such as accounting. Additionally, many might also take a stake in the mentored business, and benefit when the business prospers.

In fact, private entrepreneurs have found that business incubation is good business, and some of them even derive great satisfaction in helping new entrepreneurs grow their business.

Business incubators have changed the scenario facing new entrepreneurs by providing them just the type of support in an organized manner that each startup business needs. The support can range from business space and expensive equipment through funding assistance and networking to business mentoring. Business incubation has proven itself as highly effective in fostering entrepreneurship and economic development.

ERP, MRP & CRM: Making Sense for Small Business Owners

Confused by all the business acronyms out there about ERP, MRP and CRM software packages? Wondering how these systems can help small businesses, but unsure what they do? Well, for many small business owners, with so many options to choose from, and with so many conflicting testimonials, making sense of it all can often be an exercise in futility. Don’t despair, in their simplest form, all these systems do is improve the access to information from both inside, and outside the company. In fact, it’s the amalgamation of this information that both reduces costs, and improves efficiency.

Companies know that to win business and grow, means to provide real time information, shorten product lead times, and excel at customer service. Customers will always gravitate to those companies that can provide products and information quickly. That includes providing customers with immediate information on delivery delays, new programs and discounts on deals, and up to date information on their account. Delays cost business, but lack of information on those delays, costs more. At the heart of all these systems, is to allow companies to become proactive in the eyes of their customers.

What Does MRP Stand For?

MRP stands for Manufacturing Resource Planning, and is a software package designed around managing production in all its forms. Typically these systems track work orders through production. They dictate the amount of material and parts to use, the number of finished products to make, and track the individual cycle times of each operation during the product’s manufacturing life. More importantly, it allows all internal departments, including customer service and sales, a window into the current status of work, and an estimated completion date for customers.

 What Does CRM Stand For?

CRM is an acronym for Customer Relationship Management. Its approach is to improve the ease of information transfer about customer purchasing patterns, credit information and payment history, contact information, sales leads, and customer service history. The importance of a CRM software is that it allows its users to locate and close on business opportunities, and use existing information to improve customer loyalty, incentivize them to continue purchasing, and improve a company’s ability to reduce sales cycle times. It bridges together a company’s sales, technical support, marketing and customer service functions into on all encompassing information source.

What Does ERP Stand For?

Perhaps no other software package brings together a company’s entire access to information, as does Enterprise Resource Planning. Consider an ERP system as an extension of MRP, in that it takes the benefits of tracking manufacturing activities, to tracking all of a company’s internal activities between its departments. ERP systems bring together a company’s entire internal process into one system, with real time information, that can be accessed by all. In the process, the company reduces operational costs, improves service and eliminates timely work delays.

Companies that use ERP programs might include companies that design, engineer, and manufacture products. The ERP system bridges a company’s entire internal information so as to improve operational effectiveness. Redundant work processes, and lack of information, is one of the largest costs to companies. Regardless of size, if a company has a hard time moving work from one internal department to the next, or lacks real time critical information that all its employees can see, it will simply result in delays, and delays to customers mean lost business.

As for which system is best, it really depends upon the business itself. Small businesses don’t necessarily have concern themselves with programs designed for much larger organizations. Customers must come to see their vendors as on the ball, and ready to help. Lacking the ability to service customers, or unable to provide essential information, is a recipe for an upset and frustrated customer. These programs improve efficiency and reduce costs, while improving a company’s ability to be proactive, instead of reactive.

Grants for Small Businesses Women

Nowadays even though more and more women are getting into different types of businesses, they still find difficulty in arranging for finances for their businesses. Grants for small businesses women are really helpful for all businesswomen. The economic recession that hit the world in the later part of 2008 has left almost every person in financial crunch. The government is concerned with overall development of people and especially concerned with the development of women. The administration is trying to help women come forward and face the situation and for that they are providing moral and financial boost up through grants.

Any woman, who wants to start a new business or expand the existing one or simply wants to run her business smoothly, she can apply for the relevant grants. There are different grants for different purposes and so the first and the most important thing is to find out the most suitable grants from the list available. The best place to look for grants is the government website and here you will get complete information regarding any grant you want to apply. This is a time taking job but it is worth all the efforts when you will receive the money and you will be able to accomplish your business needs with this free financial aid.

The most remarkable and attractive feature of grants for small businesses women is that it is free money and you do not have to repay it. Starting a business is a stressful time and so you should apply for the grants. This grant money will help you fulfill any of your business requirements. You have to keep in mind few points so that you have maximum chances of getting approved for the grant money.

Prepare a solid business plan when you are trying to apply for government grant money. Make sure your business plan includes the details about the money you have requested from the government and also about how your business will be beneficial for the community. Your business plan should be impressive and persuasive when you apply for grants for small businesses women.

Going Green in Small Businesses to Save Money: Economic Conditions and Competition Make Greening a Good Practice

Businesses that followed the green path in the past did it for two reasons; principles and community responsibility. This approach was considered an expense to a business and written off in marketing and public relations. However, going green is a necessity today and just plain good business practice.

Today going green is approached as a means of reducing costs (not an expense) and making an impact on the environment. Small businesses must be lean and mean if they are to survive in highly competitive world, regardless of economic conditions. Going green is a business practice that improves the bottom line through cutting expenses on and reducing the need to lay off productive employees.

Going Paperless – Really!

This was a common theme after the integration of computer technology in the 1980’s and 90’s. However, in many cases businesses had increased the use of paper instead of going paperless. Today the idea of going paperless is gaining ground because of the increased costs of office consumables. As businesses cut back on their use of paper, they are going green and saving the environment at the same time. Cutting back on using a large amount paper, allows for greater use recycled paper to replace regular paper.

Advances in computer software packages for office and business management, the need to use paper has actually decreased. These programs have file sharing and built in cooperative functions that make creating and editing documents by multiple users easier. Incorporating these document handling procedures in a small business reduces paper use, along with speeding up processing and handling of documents for greater worker productivity.

The actual reduction in paper use has impacted the U.S. Post Office, because more businesses communicate through e-mail for sharing documents and conducting business. Scanned copies of important documents and the editing capability of PDF files; allow businesses more productivity without sending important documents through the mail.

Reducing Printing and Copier Expenses

Printers, ink, and toner are expensive. Printers also consume a lot of energy. By reducing the amount of paper used, a business can reduce the cost of all three. This supports green initiatives by keeping fewer and more efficient printer/copier combinations in one central location in a business. Money is also saved through recycling ink and toner cartridges.

Another cost saving green approach is to use double sided printing and copying for anything that does not specifically require a single sided printing. This approach can significantly reduce paper usage and most new copiers have automated single to double sided conversion settings.

Reduced Filing Needs

Filing systems take up a sizeable percent of the floor space in an office. With less paper being used and stored, a business is able to move to a smaller office. Filing fewer papers also reduces cost of long term storage of documents.

Reduced Housekeeping

Anything that reduces paper waste also reduces the potential cost of shredding documents, along with office cleaning costs. Checking trash cans in a business will quickly result in the observation that most trash is paper. Reducing the use of paper reduces the amount of trash. Less trash leads to less money being spent on cleaning and trash removal services. Paper that winds up in the trash can be recycled.

Energy Efficient Lighting

Low energy light bulbs are not new; however their use in businesses is new. Low energy bulbs are not just for the home. Using low energy bulbs reduces energy bills and the cost of replacing bulbs so often, because low energy bulbs last longer than incandescent bulbs.

Making Connections

Reducing and replacing consumables is a direct money saver, capable of both improving the bottom line and increasing employee productivity. Going green is no longer a need to meet an ideology or for supporting the community. Going green is a necessity that every business must embrace, because of cost savings and saving the environment.

Timeline: Your Personal Success Tracker

You might hear the word success and think of: Fame, Glory, Power, and Control. These are great attributes, however they drape quietly over what we really long for, which is success. Fame, Glory, and Power etc. are all individual characteristics that one may desire while another may not. Success is a Universal desire, it has no boundaries, no requirements, and no limitations, though sometimes it can feel like there are lifelong membership fees. This feeling alone may cause many people to give up on their dreams, and their finances.

Well don’t give up just yet, controlling your living is a lot easier than you think. Two important ways to stay on top of your situation are to 1. Recognize and Repair early and 2. Break down your financial structure, and focus on one section at a time. The reason for doing this is so you’re in control, after all the only one who knows your success rate is you. My acronym for success is Something Under Certain Circumstances Enticing Self Satisfaction. That’s all it is, self satisfaction, i also refer to this as financial freedom. One way to show yourself where you stand on financial freedom is by using the Timeline.

Imagine your whole life as if it were dots on a line graph, lets say 10 years back. One line is for your checking account, one for savings, one for expenses, one for your IRA/401K, and then one for anything else you do such as a diet. You will come up with many new lines as time goes on and remember that these are just the fundamentals. Review the following section and try to vision your lines and see where you stand on self satisfaction.

Identify, Assess, Resolve

As you read these, try to apply them to your situation.

Line 1- Checking: From 10 years ago to now this line should be constantly changing, yet always above the expenses on the graph. Line 2- Expenses: This will also be a rapid wave yet the object is to keep it under the checking and savings. Line 3- Savings: Should always be increasing, yet you get to choose the rate Line 4- IRA/401K: Steady consistent increase, towards the bottom of your Timeline in the early years yet working its way to the top. Once you start using this tool monthly, or even weekly, you can identify problems fast while fixing them is easy.

These are just the fundamentals, there are truly so many ways you can use this tool to help you through life. A great way is to demonstrate this to your child. Being financially secure in a way they understand can open up unlimited doors later on in life.

I hope this helps you and your family and any friends that would benefit from the reading.

Starting A New Business

The best business ideas often come out of that moment of rebellion when the budding entrepreneur comes to the conclusion that “I could do that better myself”. All those ideas presented to the boss that were never acted upon; colleagues seen to be not pulling their weight but earning the same; watching the profits that are being made from ones efforts heading off in another direction. All these very common scenarios often act as the catalyst to starting a new business.

The great danger is to fall in love with the idea and rush in without thinking it through. This doesn’t mean writing a business plan immediately; important though it is that comes later. The first step is checking on prospective customers, are there enough buyers out there who want the product or service, enough times and at a high enough price to make the idea viable when the bills have been paid.

Five Forces

In short the business idea needs to be seriously challenged. How easy would it be for others to follow and become serious competition? How much competition is there now and how good are they? Is the world changing and the product may no longer be required? Who will be in charge the buyer or the seller? Too much dependence on a small number of big buyers can be very dangerous. Will the business be under the thumb of its suppliers who may be able to impose too many conditions?

 Market Research

If the first hurdle is cleared without mishap it’s time for the research to begin. To look at customers and their needs – who are they, how many are there, where are they?

  • Customer behavior – how much they buy, how often and for how much?
  • Competitors – who are they, where are they, what are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Costs – what are the direct costs that will occur if a sale takes place and the indirect costs that will be there whether a sales takes place or not?

Armed with this information it’s time to come up with some sales assumptions taking into account businesses tend to start off slowly and build up momentum with increasing sales but often experience peaks and troughs in demand that need to be built into the sales assumptions on a month by month basis.

The Business Plan

The business plan comes next, the narrative that explains the who, where, why, what, when and how of the first year in business. This is accompanied by the financial forecasts in the form of cash flow and projected profit and loss statements.

There are many styles that can be found on the internet but it is important to choose something fit for purpose. The 100 page plan is well over the top for simple one man or woman business but may be absolutely right for the new manufacturing business with plans to create 30 new jobs. There are three good reasons for preparing a detailed business plan: