Thursday, June 27, 2013

9 Ways to Save Money on Summer Vacation


It’s summertime! Every loves to travel during the summer and many family vacations usually start during the including me.  I went to St. Thomas for a week and didn’t want to come back home.  I love traveling. Unfortunately, the economy has made it difficult for many families to take a summer vacation.   

We work 10-14 hour days or more, we rush to work, rush to get the kids, rush home, rush to eat dinner and then repeat the entire process all over again the next day.  We never take the time to relax which can lead to health issues and more money out of your pocket.  We should take a page from overseas workers who take 2 hours lunches and get 6 weeks of mandatory vacation.

Everyone needs to take time out to relax.  You can’t be the best you if you don’t take time out for yourself to recharge.  To save money for summer vacation or mini-get a ways start looking for bargains on airfare and hotels.  If you can afford to go on vacation without charging it on your credit card then do.  It’s no fun going on vacation and then paying a credit card balance for the vacation for the next 6-12 months. Here are 9 ways to help you save money when planning your summer vacation. 
  1. Plan ahead. Plan in advance to save money. Buy toiletries and other necessities before traveling.
  2. Research. Shop around to find the best deals. Visit websites like,, or to find cheap rates for hotel, airfare and cruises. Purchase services together such as air and hotel or air, hotel and rental car to save money.
  3. Act fast. When you see or hear about sales or discounts you have to move quickly to capitalize on the deal because they usually don't last long.  
  4. Get Input.  Talk to friends and neighbors to find out how they planned their vacation, i.e. ask about any discounts or sales, restaurants, shops, etc.
  5. Buy traveler's insurance. Buy traveler's insurance.  This will reduce the costs of medical bills that could accrue if you get sick on a cruise ship or flight and prevent you from going into debt. 
  6. Use restraint. Use restraint while on vacation. Don't buy everything you see.  If you know you will be tempted don't even go into the store.  Buy items or souvenir gifts at flea markets or only buy items that are on sale.
  7. Snacks. Buy snacks and a few drinks and pack them in your suitcase before you leave. This will tide you over when you get hungry while on vacation until you are able to eat a full meal.  This will also help you save you money that you would spend on midnight snacks.
  8.  Safety. Buy traveler's checks which can quickly be replaced if lost. If your credit card is stolen you may not have another credit card available to purchase any necessities. 
  9. Security. Watch your surroundings. Avoid looking like a tourist to minimize your chances of being a victim of theft or fraud. Keep your personal items secure. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Being SuperHuman in Your Business Can Cost You Money

                                                           Superman 475 - The Adventures Of Superman - With Friends Like These - Jurgens And Thibert - Batman - Superwoman
“The Emyth Revised” author Michael E. Gerber uses the term “Management by Abdication” which requires you to relinquish the business and hire someone to help you run the day-to-day operations of your business thereby passing the accountability to others so you can focus on managing your business.  Being superhuman in your business can cost you money, reputation damage, loss revenue or state, federal or legal fees.
Your business should work without you not with you. Unfortunately most entrepreneurs start their business on their own and then decide to seek help later which is a huge mistake. You should commence with staff when starting your business. You can hire college graduates or entry level staff to help you perform the day-to-day operations of your business if you are unable to hire experienced workers.
When starting a business set clear business goals, a company vision, mission and business requirements such as funding, staff, location, and future growth needs. Then determine how your business would need to perform to accomplish these tasks and start running your business accordingly.
Many times entrepreneurs continue to act as employees when running their business instead of acting like business owners. If you want to be a great successful company you have to running your business like one.
Focus more on business development and less on administrative tasks. Focusing on the day-to-day operations of your business keeps you in a narrow-minded focus and makes it difficult to generate sales and revenue.
In addition to having staff assist with the day-to-day operations of your business you need a team of advisors such as: an accountant, lawyer, financial advisor, mentor/business coach and insurance agent. Hiring a team of advisors may cost money upfront but will save you money in the future if an issue arises and you need professional advice. Focusing on the day-to-day operations of your business can also cause you to lose money because you don’t have enough time to acquire new business and can cause you to lose existing customers.
Start your business with the future in mind and then work your way backwards. Don’t focus on how much revenue you want to generate or the work that has to be done. Focus on how to run your business effectively, gain new customers and continually focus on growing the entire business not just one aspect of it. Use these tips to help you stop losing money in your business by being superhuman.

Hire a business coach who can mentor you regarding your business. Take classes, read books or articles or watch television shows to learn how to run a successful business. Study other business owners and gain lessons learned from them especially those who were able to turn home-based or small businesses into large businesses.

Provide Service
Stop focusing on how many sales you want to get in a day or how can you sell a product. When you create a great product and focus on the customer experience, customers will follow, sales will increase and your business will grow. Create multiple ways for customers to reach you and consider getting a toll-free phone number. Use various methods to frequently obtain feedback from customers.

You must see your company as a competitor with other businesses and learn how to attract customers in an innovative way.  Focus more on how you do business. Always look for opportunities to grow your business and attract new customers. Use the “SWOT” (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) strategic planning method to help you improve in all areas and develop your business. Constantly ask how will your business stand out, how your business is unique and how customers will view your business.

Reduce Costs
Automate as many of your business systems and processes which will help you save time, money and resources.  Find inexpensive ways to get what you need, hire interns, barter services, and use sites like Fiverr, social media or free or low-cost services.  Continually finds ways to increase your return on investment and save money. Think about future needs and the most effective ways to fulfill those needs without impacting your bottom line.

Use Technology
Use technology as much as possible to remain competitive and to reduce time and effort to track data, engage with customers and address current and future current needs. Innovate by continually thinking of new ways to grow your business. If you are not creative hire someone who can do this for you which will help you stand out from your competition.

Protect your ideas by using copyrights, trademarks or patents. Avoid sharing your ideas with everyone especially other business owners.  Protecting your ideas helps you remain competitive and makes you look more favorable if you decide to sell your company.

Gauge your success and business growth. Create critical success factors, key performance measures, surveys and other feedback methods to measure your business performance. Ensure that work is always performed in alignment with your future business goals and objectives. Focus on where your business is now and where you want your business to go.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

8 Business Skills That Can Cost You Money

Many people have the passion and knowledge to become business owners but do not take time to educate themselves about how to start and sustain a business. Many business owners cannot generate increased revenues to produce consistent cash flows due to lack of business skills or business knowledge. Lack of business skills can cause lost revenue. 

Some of the most common mistakes business owners make are: not accepting multiple forms or payments, credibility - what makes you different from your competition, having bad credit, limited use of technology, lack of creativity and not establishing a target market.  

As a customer you do business with companies that have experience, provide good customer service, offer reasonable prices, meet your needs and have proven that they have sound business skills. Are you providing the same to your customers?

Don’t let your lack of business skills cost you revenue. Educate yourself about how to become a successful business owner to help you take your business to the next level. If you don’t know how to do something, do research to find out how to do it on your own or hire a professional. Here are 8 guidelines on to increase your business skills and stop losing money.

Automate your business processes. Create automated systems to recruit new clients, maintain client databases, product purchases, setting appointments, tracking metrics, and tracking financials. Automating your business processes will also help you efficiently handle repetitive tasks eliminating the risk of error; free up time for other tasks, help you make better decisions, boost sales and help you remain competitive.  This will save you time and money and allow you to focus more on growing your business.

Communicate Effectively
Use effective ways to communicate with your audience. Free websites may scare away potential customers who may feel that you are inexperienced, not serious about your business or that you cannot be trusted.  Free websites also have advertisements that may distract potential customers from your website. Take the time to hire a professional web designer and make continual updates as needed. Include client testimonials, bio, FAQs, resource information and free products or offers on your website. Capture visitor emails to build your database. Avoid using free email accounts unless you work in an industry where free email accounts are not frowned upon. Setup a separate phone number for your business in your business name.

Find a Mentor
Get a business mentor who can provide advice and lessons learned on how to grow your business and create a brand. A business mentor will review the overall marketing performance of your business and will help you devise strategies to enhance sales for your business. A business mentor can help you become an expert in the industry and personal life. Mentors also provide valuable advice, help you solve problems and help you think strategically about your business.

Get Assistance
Create a support network of family or friends who will encourage and support you.  Hire experienced professionals to help support your business such as a financial advisor, lawyer, accountant and office support staff.  Hire other professionals as needed to help you grow your business.  You may feel like you can do everything yourself but that is the quickest way to failure. Consider outsourcing services as needed. Learn from entrepreneurs who grew into successful business owners.

Make a First Impression
First impressions are critical to turning prospective clients into potential clients. Word of mouth is the cheapest and best way to generate business. If your physical and/or office appearance are of low quality you may be missing out on potential clients. Always look and speak in a professional manner. Surround yourself with at least three successful business owners and ask them for advice on how they achieved their success. If you are in an industry that focuses heavily on appearance consider hiring a stylist.

Separate Records
Keep personal and business records separate. Using your SSN as your tax id can cause problems when filing taxes so it is best to obtain an EIN.  This ensures that you keep your personal life separate from your business and prevents personal liability. Make sure you file the correct status for your business based on your needs. There are several options when filing your business status with the IRS such as sole proprietorship, limited liability corporation, corporation, partnership or non-profit.  Create a separate bank account, phone number and mailing address for your business. Keep personal and business credit separate to make it simpler to track accounts and makes it easier to file your taxes.

Stop Being Mr. Nice Guy
In a survey of 50 CEOs, Russ Edelman author of “Nice Guys Can Get the Corner Office: Eight Strategies for Winning in Business Without Being a Jerk” asked about the impact of "being too nice" on their businesses. The CEOs surveyed responded by stating that being too nice cost them 8% of their gross revenues. For a small business that is the difference between going out of business and generating a profit. If you always give away free products or services you will never get a profit. Stop working like you are an unpaid intern and work as a business owner. Create policies that show others you value your time such as a cancellation or refund policy. Don’t be afraid to fire customers or vendors if the relationship is taking up too much of your time, not meeting your needs or cutting into your revenue.

Use Social Networking
Social networking is the easiest and cheapest way to get new clients and increase revenue.  Create a separate business profile for your business. Ensure you social network business profile remains professional.  Don’t allow others to post negative or inappropriate comments on your profile.  Ask trusted friends and clients to recommend your product or service.  Continually engage your audience and get feedback. Determine which social media network meets your needs and is the most advantageous for your business.