Month : October 2014

Business

Modern ways of making a lasting brand impression

It used to be that brands were the province of large, established companies and organisations, a hard to grasp concept that had something to do with their logo design and business ethos. Nowadays, most start-ups, SMEs and cottage industries are aware of the need for a brand strategy that creates a lasting impression.

What is a brand?

  • It’s not just your logo, though that forms a part of your branding.
  • Your brand is everything that your company stands for.
  • When people see your name or logo they think of X, Y or Z.

For instance, everyone knows the MacDonald’s logo but what does it stand for? Fast, tasty food at a price you can afford? A place where all the family can go? You know what you are going to get when you go into a MacDonald’s because the operational processes across all its stores have been standardised; same uniforms, same menu, even a similar layout of their restaurants.

That’s the MacDonald’s brand.

How to Develop Your Brand

The bad news is that there is even more competition out there with the rise of the internet and the reduced cost of starting up a commercial business. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to develop your brand and get it noticed.

  • Have a clearly defined and enforceable brand. If you are committed to excellent customer service or support then make sure you provide it, not every so often, but all the time. If you pride yourself in the innovation of your product then don’t rest on your laurels. If you innovate then innovate.
  • Make sure your literature matches. If you use a particular font for your website, use it for your brochures too. If your logo is placed in a certain position, then make sure that stretches across everything. Have an easy to follow strategy for producing marketing goods that staff can refer to when they are producing new promotions.
  • Have a distinctive logo that can be incorporated into all of your promotional literature, from corporate holiday ecards to business cards, emails and social media accounts. The logo is the visual representation of your brand and, if you can burn it into the mind of customers you are on your way to creating an enduring reminder of what you are about.
  • But…be aware that logos aren’t as important as they used to be. It cements your identity but what really consolidates your brand is how you deal with your customers, both online and off. It’s no longer just about simply standing for something, you now have to cultivate your customers with effective and engaging conversation.
  • Use social media to build brand ambassadors. Your greatest allies, especially on a limited budget, are the people you engage on social media. If you can get them on your side then they will promote your brand and, here’s the good news, they will largely do it for free – because they like you.
  • Be bold, be brave. It’s difficult to find new and innovative ways to build your brand but for start-ups especially it pays to be a little more daring than your competitors and the larger corporations who are usually stacked with bureaucracy.

Creating an enduring and effective brand takes a good deal of work but it’s a vital part of business development if you want to be remembered. It involves bringing numerous strands together that work in harmony and begins with knowing what you stand for and should end with a business that has a solid reputation and more than a few hard-core followers.

Money Management

Do You Count Your Chickens?

chicken Before you read this post go check out this comment to one of my previous posts. In it, Don talks about how they planned out their house purchase based on his current salary with no raises factred in. This got me to thinking about how many people rely on extra income when they plan big purchases or their budgets. If you plan with the extras included you’re setting yourself up for failure. What if none of that comes through?

I’m sure a lot of people, before the economic downturn, purchased their home thinking they were going to get overtime forever or were guaranteed a raise. Then the downturned happened and businesses stopped overtime and cut out raises. What are these people to do now?

I never budget with any extras in mind like overtime or extra paychecks. I base my budget on the bare minimum that I would receive each month. Any extra is just a plus that can go into savings.

I’ll give you an example of why I don’t include extras. A couple of months ago, before Beth (my girlfriend) got a new job, it was supposed to be her month to get an extra paycheck because she gets paid every 2 weeks. What ended up happening is her hours were cut. This caused that extra paycheck to be about 1/3 of what it was supposed to be if we had planned for it.

If it was in our budget we would have been in deep trouble because we would have counted our chickens before they hatch.

So here’s a little checklist of what not to do:

  • Don’t include any extra income in your budget (ex. overtime, bonuses, extra checks)
  • Don’t plan any big event around bonuses
  • Don’t plan a big purchase around income that might not always be there.
  • Don’t count your chickens before they hatch

I’ll just leave you with a quote said by Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation after his bonus didn’t come through:

Hey! If any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas for me, I have one. I’d like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?

Have you ever had a time when you planned something with extra money that never came through?

 

Investing

How to Invest in Property without Money

Invest in PropertyProperty investment has always been considered auspicious in India. Upper middleclass and middleclass families usually prefer to buy flats and land in their hometowns as a part of their retirement package or as an investment option in case of extra income. As the Indian economy improves, investment in real estate has seen a steady surge, increasing from 25 percent to about 45 percent in 2013. However, times have changed. Earlier, the bulk of investors were from the commercial sector with a small minority of first-time property owners forming the rest. Now, property purchases are rapidly taking the form of investments with buyers seeking to profit rapidly from purchases in the form of rents or immediate flips. For commercial and private buyers, the market is great with several new projects located in upcoming second-tier towns all over the country. What has changed is the actual investment process, states Real Estate In Your Twenties. Formerly, buyers preferred to take loans to buy their properties for themselves, but now, commercial and private buyers prefer to invest in property without using their own money.

Why?

Buying Indian property is subject to several rules, states Invest Four More. For example, the most commonly quoted rule by the Reserve Bank of India states that property loans will pay for up to 80 percent of the property price. The buyer has to pony up the rest in the form of an advance to ensure financial fluidity. However, now buyers invest in property as a hold option. They wait for the property to appreciate in value and then resell it again at a profit. In this case, they do not want to shell out 20 percent of the cost price as it leads to an upfront payment. Buyers have found ways to circumvent this upfront payment process and they use ‘no-upfront-payment’ deals to finance their property purchases. If you are new to the property investment market, here are a few ways by which you can buy property by not investing money up front.

Use the Equity You Already Have in Your Own Home

As a property owner, you already own your home outright. In this case, you may have paid a fraction of the loan and you own that much of your property. You can leverage this equity of take a loan on your existing property to buy your new home. Once this loan is approved, you can use this money to pay the 20 percent upfront for the new property, renovate it, and then flip it to resell it to a new seller for a profit. The best way to make this work is by flipping or reselling the property as soon as possible.

Buy From Friends and Family

Distress sales are very common in India. Families or people who want to relocate or want immediate cash are more than willing to sell their property at an affordable rate. For example, if the property is priced at about Rs 22, 00,000, you can negotiate a lower price of Rs 19, 00,000. Instead of paying cash for the deal, immediately look for another buyer while renovating the home. Then resell the property for a higher rate of Rs 25, 00,000. You get an immediate profit of Rs 5, 00,000 and there is no need to pay anything upfront as well. You can even choose to rent the property. The renter will pay a 20 percent security deposit on the lease and you can use this payment as an advance. The remaining payment can be financed as a mortgage as a lease.

Rent to Buy Options

This option works very well if you are planning to buy a rented property, states Legalzoom. Under the terms of this lease/buy option agreement, the buyer and seller can negotiate an amount that has to be paid at regular intervals as a form of payment for the property. This agreement allows the leaser to stay in the property while gradually purchasing the property over a period of time. Usually, a portion of the payments is credited towards the purchase price while the remainder acts as a rental payment for residency rights.

As you can see, it is easy to buy properties with no money up front. A word of caution, though: you should try this method of property investment only if you are well versed with the Indian property market. Be very cautious while choosing the property for investment. For example, reliable builders like the Unitech Group Properties are well known for their strict adherence to building schedules and you will get your property on time. However, if you invest with an unknown builder, there is a chance that the deal will fall through due to various reasons, leaving you stuck with the bills. Research the loan process, the lenders, the property you are buying, and flip the property as quickly as possible to ensure you are protected.

Mind Over Money

How To Start Doing Anything

Starting something new is always a tough task, especially if it’s something that can change your life dramatically. Starting a fitness program, a business, a budget can all be tough for you to imagine.

It doesn’t have to be because it’s easy to actually do those things but you’re holding yourself back by saying you can’t do it. Well I’m here to tell you that you can do it because other people have done it and we’re all human. Here are three reasons why people don’t start and I’m going to tell you how you can break through those walls.

Fear

You don’t know what it’s like to do something so you always assume the worst. Well turn that around and imagine what will happen if you don’t start. Nothing that’s the worst thing that will happen if you don’t start. You’re going to be in the same position you are in right now. Nothing will change for the better or the worse. How much of a life is that? That’s not living, that’s the same thing as sleeping. Wake up and face your fears because what’s on that other side is a lot better than what you’re doing now.

Once you start getting over your fear then you will be so used to it that you won’t fear starting as much. It get’s a lot easier over time.

Fear is a part of life. What I did to get over it was to think about all of the past things I started, no matter how little, and remembered how it turned out. Well I’m still living today and not in poverty so I don’t think it turned out as bad as I thought it was.

You have done a million things in your life and now it’s time to put those experiences to use and actually think about what happened after you did them. Your first date, first time you rode a bike, learned how to surf the internet. It was daunting at first but you got through it to live another day. That’s pretty much everything in life. You will get through it and the worst thing that will happen is that you’ll end up where you’re at now.

Lack of Knowledge

“I don’t know if I know everything to start.” That’s what I told myself before I started this blog. You know what? I didn’t know everything and that’s after months of reading as much as I could. But I learned a lot more from actually starting this blog than from reading how to start it.

I do recommend reading up on what you want to start but that will only take you so far. Actually starting and doing, will give you the most knowledge. Right now you don’t actually know what questions to ask but once you start you find questions to ask and expand your knowledge so much more.

So start doing and you won’t be lacking knowledge

Lack of Money

Starting something new can be an expensive endeavor but that shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want. There are many ways to get money or cut back so you don’t need so much money.

Bootstrapping is one of the best things you can do and that basically means doing everything yourself and using what you have already to its maximum.

The internet is filled with info on how to do things on the cheap so that is going to be your best source for money saving ideas and even free stuff.

There is a site I found recently where it’s a community type of funding and I thought it was rather interesting. It’s called IndieGoGo and it’s a really great way to get your project funded.

The last way to get money would be a loan through a bank or some other type like peer to peer lending through Prosper.

The point is there are plenty of ways to get money but make sure you actually need that money because a lot of things can be done for next to nothing. So be sure to look around for any alternatives if it’s going to cost you a lot of money to do something.

Get Started

The main thing is that you start and the rest will be gravy. Of course there will be times when things aren’t going right but that’s life and you’ll get over it and get back on the horse. Life goes on so don’t let one setback ruin everything. Keep on keeping on.

Let me know what has stopped you?

 

Insurance

How to Shop Around for the Best Life Insurance Quotes

Finding the best life insurance policy is something that many people hope to do, but often have a hard time sifting through the hundreds of different companies that offer life insurance policies. Many companies have several different life insurance policies that are available to consumers, each providing different coverage with huge ranges in price. There are a few tried and true techniques that you can use to evaluate the life insurance quotes that you have available to you, and narrow down the list of options to only those companies that deserve consideration.

Make an Initial List

Start by making an initial list of companies that you would like to consider using for your life insurance policy. This list can come from a number of sources, including your local area, online quote providers, and any other source that you have to find life insurance companies. Start by making your initial list, and then you can go about researching the companies to find the policy that is going to suit you and your family best. The initial list should be around 10 different companies or policies, so that you have plenty of material to work with when you begin researching the company.

Read Reviews

Once you have a list of companies that you are considering, the next thing that you need to do is to become familiar with the companies. There is no better way to evaluate a company than by reading the reviews that they have available from previous customers. This can alert you to certain issues that previous customers might have had with the company, and will allow you to avoid companies that have a reputation for not being able to take care of their customers. The more reviews that you read, the bigger of a picture you will have in order to gauge the competency of these companies. Use the reviews that you read to narrow down the list of companies that you are considering using.

Understand the Policies

Now that you have your list narrowed down to just a few companies, you need to understand the policies that they have available. Read all of the fine print of each of the policies that you are considering so you can understand the policies in full, and know what the potential pros and cons of each policy are. Know exactly what can void your policy, and how you can avoid breaching the terms of your policy.

Compare Prices

Also compare the prices of the policies between the different companies that you are considering. Remember, higher quality policies that generally force companies to take on more risk are going to cost more. Also weigh the price of the life insurance policies against the guaranteed and potential payouts that are given by the policy when necessary. Price is a huge consideration when you are choosing a life insurance policy, so take your time and evaluate all of the options that you have in front of you. Also make sure that you have a proper budget in place, so you know where to draw the line in terms of which policies are available to you.

Speak With Them

Once you have your list down to just a few life insurance plans, the last step is to speak to them about your decision. This can give you a good indication of the customer service that they provide, as well as giving them a chance to sell you on their policies. Ask any questions that you might have about the policy, and ask them to explain aspects that you do not understand, in full. By speaking to them, you give them the chance to quell any of your concerns and can give you one last evaluation to work with when making your final decision.

Author Bio: This article was written by Chuck Henry of Wonga.com a company that helps with short term loan needs.