Thursday, October 25, 2012

Long Term Financial Planning

A probably angry Lee Iacocca was indicating that finance is something that has to be pre-planned, planned, re-planned and even post-planned. Financial planning in itself does not involve just setting budgets, wage rates or deadlines. It is all about getting to know realistic work schedule, the manner in which they can be executed, back up plans that can be used and the least cost with the help of which the entire project can be executed. So basically, financial planning and growth forecasting, both involve, the answers to the 4 important questions, why, when, where and how (answers have to be cost oriented).

Steps in Long Term Financial Planning

Step 1: Let us take the example of a coffee shop, whereas a financial planner, one has to find legitimate answers to 4 questions, namely:

Why should we be producing a specific item on the menu card? (consider cost of production and sales price)
When should we produce such an item and for what time duration? (bear in mind seasonal costs, inflation of raw material prices)
Where should we produce the item, right in the shop or some production center? (consider transport cost, nature of goods and selling cost)
How should one produce the item, manually or mechanically? (consider equipment and personnel cost)

Step 2: The second step is to assess your business environment. In this step, surveying the competitor's performance, pricing and distribution is an absolute necessity. In such a scenario, you may also prepare a cost sheet of the financial features of production, namely, the money that you would have to invest as a manufacturing cost, its sales cost, and the profit that it would yield. Logically speaking, the sale price should be more than the cost price and the return over asset ratio/return over investment ratio should be healthy. While finalizing these three figures, you will need to take into consideration 3 important aspects.

Average spending capacity of your customers.
Your competitor's quality, quantity and price.
Popularity of the product, potential market, customer retaining capacity of the product, etc.

Though the trend of such products is more experimental in nature, they might become full-time, public favorite products, hence it is also important to make a financial provision to recover losses, that arise in the experimental period, until the product establishes itself in the market.

Step 3: The third and fourth step are more analytical in nature and from the finance point of view, they are also quite expansive. The idea that you need to implement in the third step is allocation of resources in such a manner that you tend to make a genuine profit in sales, during the long run. In this step, you will be using and analyzing cash flow statements on almost a daily basis. The key is to have uniform cash outflows for consecutive days/months/years. Cash outflow is basically all expenses and losses. Losses are quite uncontrollable but expenses are definitely controllable. Hence search for raw material sources, manpower and production processes that will help you to maintain a uniform and low per unit cost for the item/product. For example have regular suppliers, who will supply at an agreed and uniform cost. This uniformity will eventually come in handy to curb and control unexpected losses, and will also help you to keep a good hold over the market.

The second part of the third step is making monetary provisions. This is absolutely essential due to the fact that no business is risk-free. Such provisions include advance to the raw material supplier, insurance, provisions for bad debts, extra services, etc.

Are You Taking The Right Approach To Marketing?

I always find it interesting that many small business owners don't appear to believe that marketing is a priority within the business environment. There seems to be an appreciation of the importance of various other tasks, but there's often a limited approach to the world of marketing.

What this often means is that this subject only really becomes more of a priority once there is a direct problem being faced. Typically, we might see this as being represented by a lack of customers, sales and income. In such situations, there is the sudden need to work out what's going wrong.

How does this work out? The problem with such an approach is that marketing tends to work best when it is planned and is part of an ongoing process. Indeed, it's something that I would suggest needs to be at the very heart of any business. I can certainly see, however, that it may sometimes take a back seat.

The issue here may be that there are plenty of other issues that may appear to be more of a priority. As an example, you may find that you spend a lot of time stepping in to deal with emergencies. Although you may have a number of employees, there's a fair chance that you see your own role as involving some degree of direct activity.

If staff members are attempting to deal with an unhappy customer, for example, then there may be a perception that having the boss available to get involved might ease the situation. This may be true, but you do need to think about the overall balance of the situation. The truth is that getting involved with such tasks means that you won't be carrying out other activities.

It's frequently the case that marketing is classed as one of those other activities and gets left out. What this can mean is that the marketing performance of the business can tend to suffer, having an impact on overall income levels. You may already be aware that this is happening and you can be sure that such a scenario means that you will be losing business to rivals.

If you believe that you have a problem, then there's a fair chance that there is something wrong with your existing marketing strategy. It may be the case that, in theory, you have a sound strategy in place. The problem may be with the manner in which that strategy is actually being implemented. It's hard to identify the problem without sitting down to investigate it further.

How Social Media Engagement Enhances the Overall Customer Experience

We can look at social media first by focusing on traditional methods of communication. Traditional media including radio, television and magazines implemented one-way, static messages ideal for viewing and not responding. Traditional advertising methods required the business to get space in newspapers, magazines or create a television commercial. These were expensive and their impact could not be easily measured.

Web and mobile technology has made it easy for anyone to create online content and distribute it to audiences online for free. This reduces the cost of advertisement as you, as a company, do not have to part with large sums of money to have your ads published. What's more, distribution is almost instant.

Social media comes in many forms: reference sites (Wikipedia), blogs, micro blogs (twitter), social networks (Facebook), discussion forums, social bookmarking and voting sites (Digg), virtual worlds (Second life) and media sharing sites (YouTube), which are vital in enhancing the customer experience. These are visited by millions of people around the world every day and your business is sure to reach many people in a short time. As we speak, it is very probable that your customers and competitors are already using social media.

The first strategy to focus on is monitoring. Customers and competitors are out there on the web talking about your business or products. Giving a response or taking part in the conversation will build a sense of trust and confidence they have in you. Before you respond to any questions or provide information, you need to know what they are talking about, where it is being said, and who is talking about it. Tools abound on the web which search for your name, business name or product. Set up an account on your RSS feeder reader and monitor the feeds daily. Such tools include Technorati search, Google news search and Social Mention just to mention a few. Through this, you will be able to get complaints about your products, get suggestions on how to improve and what they love about your products. You can also find out what people say about your competitor products. This will put you ahead of competition, while providing customers with what they want.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Financial Planning Process Steps

Whenever we start a new venture, the first thing that we invariably do is planning. And when it comes to finance and business, needless to say, planning becomes an indispensable activity. So what is financial planning? Financial planning can be termed as a process in which financial needs are assessed first, objectives to achieve monetary goals are set (which include investments) and assets and resources are evaluated and ways to increase them are devised. Why is financial planning important? Of course! This is important! This activity not only allows the person to learn about planning his finances but also helps him understand the importance of cash flows and investments that come handy in the most unexpected situations.

Steps in Financial Planning

Financial planning is an integral part of financial management. This activity requires a lot of study and research, before one goes about drawing a plan and implementing it. Not to miss an important point on this subject, risk assessment is an integral part of any planning. So let's understand the key financial planning process steps. Below are the key steps to consider in your financial planning process.

Identifying Financial Needs
The primary responsibility in the financial planning is conducting a need analysis. An investor has a number of needs of which he needs to prioritize the important ones and plan accordingly. The important goals which are preset are, education of children, down payment of a house, health requirements, life insurance and retirement. Following these needs are the means to increase the wealth in terms of cash and property. Also a person needs to have concrete answers for the following questionnaire:

What are your investment goals?
  • How much money do you have for investments?
  • Do you invest in stocks, bonds and mutual funds?
  • Are your financial needs short term or are you headed for long term financial planning?
  • What benefits are expected from your investments?
Gathering Financial Data
  • Now that you have identified the financial needs, the second step should be to consolidate your financial planning worksheet to understand your cash flow, investments and liabilities. This can consume a day to week's time depending on your needs. Take the help of a financial planner who would help you out with this marathon. The documents needed for this process would include:
  • Assets, Liabilities, tax deductions and tax returns
  • Balance sheets
  • Income and expenditure statements
  • Employee benefit plan booklets
  • Retirement planning documents
  • Wills and trusts
  • Insurance policies
  • Investment statements
  • Brokerage house statements
  • Bank statements
Besides, the planner will also require some more data like: 
  • What is your retirement age?
  • What income is anticipated post retirement?
  • How would you want your property to be distributed?
  • What is the current economy state and where is it headed towards?
  • How much inflation can occur in near future?
The planner will also make a risk tolerance assessment of your personal attitude (aggressive, moderate or conservative) towards financial affairs and at the end of the data gathering process, he is bound to get a hang of what is your current financial state and what it will be or can be in near future.

Developing the Plan
Here starts the actual work of your financial planner who has to devise effective means of developing a fool proof financial planning process. Steps to develop the financial plan start with the following:

Documenting your plan to fulfill protection, health and retirement. Also wealth creation and preservation requirements are included.
Explaining to you about the pros and cons of every rationale included in the plan (keeping in mind the risk appetite of the investor: you).
Understanding the tax laws and the financial operative framework of the system.

Plan Presentation
Once the financial plan is well documented, your financial planner will proofread it and present it to you. In the first round of presentation, you have to study the documentation thoroughly, with your spouse. Take your time, and if you have doubts, jot them down in a list and pass them on to your planner. He will give you clear answers for all the doubts raised and then once you have agreed, the planner will make an implementation checklist. So the next mode of the financial planning is implementing the well documented financial plan into action.

This is a pivotal phase of the financial planning process steps. And also this period takes longer time (approx. 4-6 months) than the previous stages of the financial planning. During this phase, intricate details like tax planning, retirement planning, insurance concerns and estate/property planning are discussed thoroughly. To get a clearance on certain issues, attorneys may be involved for guiding and helping out with certain queries. Quite possible, that at the end of the implementation, your financial plan may have more than 20 recommendations (of which some may be major and strategic). So, it depends on you and your planner as to how you want these recommendations to be incorporated. But yes, your financial plan is now ready!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Basic Money Management Skills

Money. That which makes the world go round. Literally. Without encouraging romantic notions of 'but that is love', let's get moving. What I simply mean is, that it all boils down to the money that we have at the end of the day. Money determines the way we live, what we do, and basically every other decision of our lives. Without money, we are basically nothing. And that, I know, is something that no one will want to go through. So it becomes imperative that we earn well. But earning well is not the end all of everything. It actually begins from there. That money which is earned, needs to be managed well, so that we continue to benefit from it for a long time. And therein comes the part where we need to learn some basic money management skills. Because without these, we will not be able to develop effective methods of money management.

Most of us do not have the knowledge of what some of the most simple and effective money management skills are. So to help you out, this article shall provide you with just that.

Money Management Tips

Money management skills are not difficult to learn once you get the hang of how to go about it. Given below is a step by step plan that you can follow in order to nurture some of these skills.

Take Stock
The first thing you need to do is check how much you are earning. Add in all the resources. Once you have this figure, calculate how much money you need to spend every month. To learn how much you spend every month, the best method is to write down each and everything that you spend on during that time. You cannot imagine how much the amount will be! We don't realize how much we end up spending on small things. Keep in mind that you need this spending figure to learn the basic skills. Keep in mind that the figures of two months will never be the same, there will be more expenditures incurred in a particular month and not so many in the next. But an average figure can be definitely arrived at.

Allot Amounts
Now that you know an average amount of the money that you need to spend for a month, it'll be easier to allot amounts to different things. Make a list of all the things that you need to spend on - rent, tuition, bills (newspaper, Internet etc.) groceries, miscellaneous and emergency (very important). You can make a long term-short term list as well. Like monthly/weekly/daily, and segregate the items accordingly. Now calculate the amount that you need for each and allot the money accordingly.

Many people use the envelope method for household items and it seems to work for them. For this use different envelopes and mark them - for example 'vegetables', 'toiletries', 'groceries' and at the beginning of the month fill the envelop with the amount that you need. Now stick to that amount no matter what. When you put it down on paper like that, you are constantly reminded of it and the tendency to overspend is curbed.

Take Care of Debts
Never ever keep a debt. Pay a debt off as soon as you can, because if you keep on piling it, it'll just keep getting bigger and bigger and cut into your regular saving plan. Find out how much you owe and what you need to pay off, that is the first step in managing your debt. Credit cards, surplus bills - everything. Make a plan for the same. How? Along with the other envelopes, make another one for the debts so that you have a clear segregation made. It might be difficult in the beginning, but once you start physically putting in the money, you'll deal with the problem head on and with continued efforts the amount will be paid off.

Plan the Future
Now that the preliminary stage is taken care of, you'll need to save for the future. The most important thing to do here, is draw up a goal. What do you want to save for? Retirement? Children's education? A house? Car? Or even small plans like a music system, a new phone. Calculate the amount you'll need to save for it. This is your first step. The next steps will be how to get that money in a stipulated period of time.


Having a budget is really important. One way of budgeting is the envelope way, so that you don't end up spending more when you have already allotted a fixed amount to yourself. The second method of making a budget, and this is somewhat of a conscious change in attitude, is that you get it in your head to budget things. Consciously decide that you want to budget. Do not spend recklessly. Other than that planning for the future and drawing up plans of the things you need to save for will help you to budget well. Because you'll know what and how much you need to save up on to get that amount.

After paying all the bills, with the surplus amount in hand, you need to invest it well. There is nothing worse than stagnant money. So consult a financial adviser or an investment adviser who will calculate how much you can afford to save per month, after deducting the expenditure and surplus. After which he will draw up a scheme that suits you best. It could be anything from a fixed deposit account to investing in mutual funds or buying property as assets.

Easy Saving Tips
Along with budgeting and drawing up plans, you can also consciously decide to save. Here are some money saving tips that you can use:

Buy things in wholesale.
  • Instead of buying books, join a library or start a club. Use this same formula for different things.
  • Car pool to work, that will save on money for gas AND is good for the environment.
  • Buy things on sale.
  • Go through your daily expenditure sheet, you will find that there are several things in there that you can easily give up. Like a very expensive brand of hair products.
  • Turning off the power when you don't need it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pest Control Marketing - Using Your Vehicle to Get New Customers!

Successful pest control marketing can be as simple as parking in the right place. Let me explain.

A while back I presented a 2 hour seminar specifically for pest control operators. There were about 25 people in attendance.

The meeting was held at popular a restaurant located on a major, busy highway. Literally thousands of people (potential customers) pass up and down this particular stretch of highway every day.

At the beginning of the meeting I pointed out to everyone that only two pest control vehicles were parked in front of the restaurant.

Not only could everyone coming into the restaurant parking lot immediately see those two vehicles, but so could everyone passing along that busy highway.

All of the other vehicles were parked out back, behind the building and out of sight from the road.

My question to the attendees was this: Why would you pay a lot of money to put the name of your company and your contact information on the side of your vehicle and then hide it by parking in the rear of a busy restaurant... completely out of sight of a busy highway... with tons of potential new customers passing by every minute?

What are you thinking?

Your vehicle is a rolling billboard for YOU and YOUR BUSINESS!

What do you want it to do for you besides just getting you from one place to another?

Do you want your vehicle to act as a sales person and get you more new customers?

Do you want your vehicle to trigger a buying response in some stranger and cause them to write down your phone number and call you later to schedule an appointment?

Of course you do.

But... in order for those things to happen... your vehicle must be seen by them.


This includes restaurants, schools, churches & synagogues, grocery stores, town meeting halls, ball games, soccer practice, shopping malls, swimming pools, boat ramps, dog groomers, friend's houses, hair salons, tennis courts... and wherever else you go in your vehicle.

And this especially includes while you're at a customer's home. You should always park your vehicle where it is visible from the street and anyone passing by can see it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Three Strategies to Include In Your Business's Marketing Mix

In today's crowded world of business, one marketing method alone isn't enough. You and your competitors are vying for the attention of you prospects and customers, but this audience is increasingly diversified.

You won't find them in just one place anymore, so you shouldn't be marketing yourself in just one place. Here, we will share with you a whole host of strategies and tips you should be including in your business's marketing mix:

1. Online

Whatever the nature of your business, your marketing mix should always start online. A professional, search-engine friendly website is vital. You need to be visible when your customers search for you online.

As well as a website, other strategies you need to be implementing include search engine optimisation (SEO), social media and email marketing, and a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign. Combined, these efforts will help drive traffic and boost your sales. This is, of course, the ultimate goal of your marketing.

2. Offline

When planning your marketing and promotional strategies, you shouldn't forget the importance of traditional methods. Even in a technology-reliant world, your business needs to be making the most of the 'old school' techniques.

Direct mail and telemarketing are essential for reaching out to prospects and clients. You can personalise and tailor your efforts to really tap into what makes them tick. Send them offers, follow up an enquiry, or just remind them of your amazing products.

Just be careful you don't cross the line into being 'spammy', though. That is the quickest way to drive customers into the arms of your competitors.

3. Experiential

Experiential - or experience-based - marketing is a great way for customers to see for themselves just how great you are. As far as promoting your business goes, attending trade shows and conferences should be a key part of your marketing mix.

Whether you're launching a product, or just looking to raise your company profile, exhibition marketing is a great opportunity. Make sure you're fully prepared with a well designed exhibition stand, eye catching displays, and that extra 'something' that makes you stand out from the crowd.

How Internet Marketing Can Bring Your Business Success

Internet marketing is a great way for you to promote your online business. If you aren't already employing internet marketing strategies to promote your business, you should start right away. Upon reading this article, you will know more about the basics of internet marketing and how to implement certain strategies while also developing your own strategies.

Site wide links will always appear on every page of your site. A lot of webmasters place these links at the base of their webpages so that they are easily accessible. If you have a main page that you want people to visit, this is how you would make that happen. To make your site-wide links accessible to your visitors, it is useful to have a menu option that displays them. Make sure your menu descriptors are brief and logically organized.

Meta tags are sort of like a site's digital fingerprint. They can't be seen by ordinary visitors, but search engine spiders use them to quickly scan and classify your site. The first meta tags that you use are the most important ones, and they should be highly relevant to your website's content. Use a few meta tags only. You can add alternative tags to your pages if you need to. In addition, you should aim to perform an adequate amount of research on what keywords are going to be the most popular for the audience you are trying to draw towards your products.

You can note how important your text is through the use of HTML tags. An important text should be written in bold letters to stand out. Titles should carry the bold tag, as should particularly important paragraphs or sentences in the main content area. You should tag the main title and use sub-lines for the different sections of text. This allows your website to be better understood by the search engines, which will lead to increased rankings. In order to identify what content is important on your webpage, you will want to use good keywords in your titles.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Get Tips for Starting a Successful Online Business

Many have asked me, how to start a money making website? They believe it is scary and difficult to do. They could not be far from the truth. The internet business is a superb way for anyone with the basic knowledge of computers to make money. Running your online website will be easy since there are thousands of resources available on the net to help you on your journey to start a money making website. You just have to be dedicated and you will be successful.

When you are looking at how to start an online business, it's best to first research all the particular fields that you are interested in. You'll want to find out whether or not there is a great deal of competition in your niche because this could affect your decision to get started. You usually want to look for a field where there is less competition so that you can come in with cheap but effective marketing and dominate that niche. It is often easier to be a big fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big pond.

On the internet, your domain name will play a huge role in the success of your website. You want to find an available DOT COM domain name that is short, easy to remember and marketable. Do not waste money on .net, .org or other extensions. If you find a domain that is perfect that's taken then contact the owner and make a cash offer. Otherwise, find the best domain name you possibly can. This will make the difference between a $1000 website and a $1,000,000 website.

Choosing A Topic For Your Website

This is one of the first important steps for starting your money making website. Your website should be about one topic in order for it to be successful. For example, what do you think about the website It is a company that sole purpose is all about apple products, whether it is iPhones or iPods the site is still all pertain to apple products.
  • Follow your Interests- Write down any topics that really interest you, whether it is laptops or cats choose something that you will love to write about.
  • Follow the Market- If it is the new iPad or the new type clothing style, find what is people are searching for and choose one that you think best fits your interests. You can find what is hot or popular in the internet using either Google Keyword Tool or WordTracker Tool, which will give you all information of how many people are searching for that topic.
There are many ways you can earn money selling products and services and we will go over a few. You can decide to sell products online which you can find through wholesale distributors. There are plenty of distributors that you can find by searching the internet. Find products that are in demand that people are looking to buy. You can also advertise on your website and sell advertising space through networks such as Google's AdSense. You can even sell your products through storefronts at either Yahoo, eBay, or Amazon websites to reach even more buyers.

Another key when you are looking at how to start an online business, is to make sure that you are continually testing and adjusting your strategy. Once you design your website, you cannot sit back and wait for people to start visiting. You have to be continually advertising and refining your sales pages to get the best conversions. Sometimes, a simple change of words or removing of a sentence can increase your sales 200%. You never know what works until you try it out.

A huge factor when building your online business is how you decide to market and advertise your website. There are many companies which you are able to buy traffic from at a very cheap price and this can be a good way to supplement your natural search engine traffic. The best strategy for ranking high on search engines is updating your website regularly with quality content combined with promoting your website on as many relevant networks as possible. Back links are other websites that link back to yours. This is beneficial because search engines follow links and take snapshots of new pages. They will find the links to your web site and index your pages in the next update.

As long as you continue you provide valuable content, products and services to people online then you can earn money for your efforts. If people find your website useful then they will come back and share your site with friends and family. This is the basics of running a successful business in the real world and it also applies to the internet. Continue to research and learn new ways of targeting buyers in your niche and find out how to give them what they are looking for.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Correlations for Strategic Marketing

Please allow me to shed some light toward a frequent misnomer in today's vocabulary and in data marketing-- the word, correlated. The expression has been certainly used in marketing for years, both behind the scenes or when marketing a product to a target audience. Check out high cholesterol medicine, for instance. Marketers have skillfully suggested that these goods help stop heart troubles because cholesterol and cardiovascular disease are correlated. A little something isn't really right here though.

Marketers, specifically those concentrated on data marketing, have to beware that a correlation amongst two groups of data does not reveal that that one dataset impacts the other. Simply put, a correlation does not supply statistical proof of a cause-and-effect connection. I'm not pointing out that it wasn't great marketing to mention the correlation involving cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, however beware deriving your marketing judgments simply on correlations in your database.

Did you know that the event of diaper rash and construction is exceptionally correlated? Does this indicate that one leads to the other? No. The missing connection is hot climate. Diaper rash and street construction both happen to transpire throughout the hot times of the year, but neither one are immediately associated with one another (at least to our knowledge).

Regrettably, marketers have contributed to creating some complexity about this topic, so think of this our effort to help put the record straight at the very least in the marketing world. Correlations can help direct your marketing selections, but don't ever always totally trust in them. When you investigate your audience and exactly how they reply to your marketing, take a minute to think about one level below what the correlations are explaining to you. Is it actually only because they're males that they are responding far better? Is the real cause the aspect that they're in between the ages of 18 and 24? Digging deeper utilizing sophisticated data marketing or having a closer look at your target audiences' qualities will certainly expose a clearer image of what honestly leads them to act.

If you have time and capacity, run a statistical regression analysis to help discover the variables that unquestionably create much higher tendencies to react. With adequate information and time, a proficient data marketing crew can forecast the actions of a target audience with exceptional correctness, letting you to segment groups that openly respond.